Where the @$&# is Broadway anyway?

If you asked a NYer where Broadway was, they’d probably point you to the street that runs the length of Manhattan.

If you said, “No, where’s the Broadway they talk about in books,” they’d probably look at you funny,  maybe point you to Times Square and say that’s where most of the theaters are.

They’d have to explain that Broadway doesn’t have an exact physical destination.

Which is why I think it’s time we give it one.

I did something I’ve always wanted to do this weekend and made the drive from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, two tourist destinations that do a very good job of telling you exactly where you are and making a tourist attraction out of it.

How do they do it?  The old-fasioned way.  With a sign.

The Hollywood sign is one of the most famous landmarks in the LA area.  It screams from the hills that you have entered the land of the silver screen.  It even has a website!  And on that website the sign is described by Hugh Hefner as “not simply a sign but a symbol of inspiration.”

In Vegas, when you’re driving down the strip towards the man-made mecca in the desert, you are first greeted by the infamous Welcome To Fabulous Las Vegas sign which was put up in 1959.  It even has a Wikipedia entry!  And more importantly it has a place where you can stop your car, get out, and have your picture taken next to it.

On Broadway . . . we’ve got . . . eh . . . uh . . . huh.

We don’t seem to have a symbol or sign that we’ve entered the theatrical capital of the world.  Sure there are street signs that say Broadway, and there’s the statue of George M. Cohan in Duffy Square, and maybe even the Red Steps and the TKTS booth (but I’m not sure we want a discount destination representing where Broadway begins).  But nothing that says, “Broadway is here!”

So if we don’t have one, maybe we should make one. Maybe it’s a marquis that sits in Times Square.  Or a lit sign on 42nd St.  Or maybe the sign is written in the sidewalks (which reminds me of this blog I wrote about our own Walk of Fame).

Is this cheap?  Or even practical?  Probably not.

But I guarantee that we’d have a ton of tourists taking their pictures in front of it, and it might even inspire a few more to actually take in a show while they are in town.

And maybe, if we’re lucky, it would even have its own Wikipedia page.

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Broadway’s 1st Quarter Results: Summer Lovin’ happened so fast.

With the end of the summer comes the end of the first 13 weeks of the
Broadway season, which means it’s time for us to check in and see how
the grosses and attendance are stacking up so far.

And lo and behold, it looks like Santa got his seasons messed up, because we got a nice present this summer!

Grosses
are up a considerable 2.9% this quarter, as compared to the first 13
weeks of last season.  Attendance notched up 1.1% as well.

This is quite a difference from the first quarter last year, when we were down 3.2% in the gross column and 9.6% in the attendance column.

Why the difference?  Is the economy better?  Were there more tourists in town?

I think the answer is simpler than that.

In the first 13 weeks of this season, there were simply more shows.  Playing weeks were up 7.3% over last year.

I
think we’ll slip back a bit this Fall, as the season looks a little
light (I’m expecting a surprise closing announcement from at least one
show).  However, I am still holding firm with my projection that will see modest increases in both attendance and grosses for the year . . .

. . . Especially now that Spider-Man looks like it’s finally ready to cast his web.

See you in Q2!

If everyone is going one way, sometimes it’s smarter to go the other.

The July 4th holiday week on Broadway is always a nail-biter. While there is usually an infusion of show-seeing tourists at the last minute, advance sales for this week are always in the crapper (which is why you probably noticed a bunch of July 4th emails in your inbox promoting several shows for this one week only).

Since the majority of people in the US are interested in fireworks on the night of the 4th, most shows cancel evening performances that fall on that date, and schedule a replacement matinee on a Thursday or Friday or some other odd time.

This year, the 4th fell on a Sunday, which made for an easy decision for all of those shows that didn’t have a performance on Sunday night to begin with.  They just proceeded with their usual schedule.

All the other shows with Sunday evenings cancelled.

Except for one.

Next to Normal did their Sunday night show . . . and they ended up being the only Broadway show with a performance on Sunday evening.

While I have no idea how they grossed, I’d bet that they did better on Sunday night than they would have if they replaced that performance with an odd matinee, wouldn’t you agree?

I know when I plan a performance schedule, I look at exactly what the rest of the field is doing . . . and then sometimes, I do the opposite.  I don’t care what day it is, there are always people who want to see shows, just maybe not enough to fill every theater.  So whether it’s Flag Day or World Naked Bike Ride Day, if you can end up being one of the only shows available, well, then, you may end up raising the curtain without a single ticket available.

More performance time research revealed.

Telecharge released a third installment of their report on Broadway performance times recently, once again challenging us all to thoroughly examine our perf schedule and ask, “Do we have the best performance times for our customers or are we just going along with tradition?”

This report concentrated solely on Out-Of-Town buyers (tourists) and Suburbanites, since those two groups account from more than 80% of our sales.

Here are a few bullet points from the in-depth analysis:

  • Monday night has the highest percentage of out-of-towners, but Thursday has 3x as many out-of-town sales as Monday.
  • Wednesday evening is typically the weakest-selling performance, but twice as many out-of-towners bought tickets for a Wednesday evening as a Monday evening.
  • Unlike out-of-town buyers, suburban buyers show a significant preference for matinee performances.
  • Sunday and Monday evenings are the two weakest performances for sales to tourists but they have a high percentage of sales from them: 52% and 54%, comparable to Friday and Saturday night.  These performances depend more on tourists than other performances.
  • The peak performances for out-of-town buyers fall between Thursday and Sunday afternoon.
  • Thursday is a stronger performance with out-of-town buyers than Sunday matinee or Wednesday night.

What does all the data in these three reports tell us?  Should we have 7 PM performances on other nights besides Tuesday?  Should we have Thursday and/or Friday matinees?  If tourists are here between Thursday and Sunday, what about a Friday at 5 (like our friends in London)?  What about 9 PMs on Saturday?

These reports don’t have all the answers.  As a therapist once told me . . . “We don’t have all the answers, we just know what questions to ask.”

These fantastic reports challenge us all to ask our own questions about our own specific shows.  Don’t follow tradition for tradition’s sake (unless, of course, you’re doing Fiddler).  Use the stats, study your audience, and shake up your times until you find what works best.

Special thanks to The Shuberts and Telecharge for releasing this info.  (To read the summaries of the previous reports click here and here.)

Let’s hope for more of these in the future.

Or you know what would be really cool?  A Telecharge ticketing blog!

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Do tourists like matinees perfs? Do city residents like Tuesday eves? Results of study revealed.

Our friends at Telecharge, led by the Swami himself, recently completed a very detailed study of our audience and their favorite performance times.  In the words of TCharge, the objective of the study was as follows:

“We decided to see if there were significant differences in the geographical breakdown of customers by performance, using sales data from Telecharge.com Broadway shows for performances between August 31, 2009 and January 3, 2010.”

In other words, does a Manhattanite want to go to a show on a weekday or a weekend?  What about your Aunt Sally who comes in from the Shore?  And what about the family of four from New Mexico who comes in for Christmas?

Here is what Telecharge found out, and there are a few surprises:

SUMMARY

 

·
Tourists
are less likely to buy matinees than evenings.

·
Suburban
theatergoers prefer matinees over evenings. 

·
People
who live in Manhattan prefer Tuesday over Friday or Saturday night.  

·        People who live in Manhattan prefer Thursday performances over ANY other night.

·
More
tourists attend the theatre on Thursday evening than on Wednesday.

DETAILED RESULTS

·
Tourists
(customers from outside the tri-state area) are less likely to buy matinees
than evening performances. 

o    The matinees all have
a below average percentage of sales from tourists

§  The overall average
for all performances was 51%, with the lowest percentage at 41% and the highest
at 66%. 

o    The percentage of
tourists buying for Wednesday matinees was 44%. 

o    Sunday matinee was
the performance with the lowest percentage of tourists at 41%, followed by
Wednesday matinee, then Saturday matinee at 48%. 

o    There are more orders
from tourists for Friday night than Saturday night; the performance with the
next largest number of orders from tourists is Saturday matinee followed by a
big drop to Tuesday, then Thursday evening, Sunday matinee, and then Wednesday
night. 

o    The performance with
the highest percentage of tourists is Sunday evening at 66% followed by Monday
evening at 65%; however, there are more tourists seeing a show on Monday night
than Sunday night.  Friday evening is next at 57% while Saturday night is
55%.

·
Suburban
buyers prefer matinees.  There are more people from the suburbs seeing
theatre on a Saturday or Sunday matinee than there are seeing a show on Friday
or Saturday night. 

o    There are more people
from the suburbs seeing a show on Wednesday afternoon than there are for any
evening performance, including Friday and Saturday night.

o    The performance with
the most orders from the suburbs is Saturday matinee followed by Sunday
matinee, then Wednesday matinee, Saturday evening, and Friday evening.

·
Tuesdays
at 7

o    There are more orders
from tourists for Tuesday night than for Thursday evenings or Sunday matinees.

o    There are more orders
from people living in Manhattan for Tuesday night than for Friday or Saturday
night.

·
Manhattan
buyers.  Tuesday is the second most popular performance of the week for
people from Manhattan, after Thursday.  Friday night is third, then
Saturday, and Wednesday night.  The weekend matinees are a distant sixth
and seventh in order.

 

·
Customers in the Boroughs gravitate
towards weekends:  Saturday matinee, Saturday evening, Sunday matinee,
Friday night, then Tuesday night.  

 

Pretty cool stuff, right?  The above data allows you to target your initiatives accordingly.  Trying to appeal to city dwellers in January?  You now know when they are most likely to want to come to the theater.  Conversely, you now know when they don’t, and when you may have to dig into your marketing/discounting bag o’ tricks to get them out of their hobbit holes.

The other big question that the Telecharge report poses is about that matinee performance time.  Sure, suburbanites love them, but if our tourists are the bread and butter of our audience, maybe during peak tourist season, that matinee time should be later, giving them more time to dance around the city before they sit down to watch dancing chorus boys and girls.

Telecharge is promising some more research on this subject, and when it’s released, I’ll release it to you.

Tremendous thanks to them for doing the work, and for sharing it with us.

Because sharing information makes us all stronger.

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