April 1, 2017
Chapter 10 (Producers):
“Dynamic Pricing” a ticket-pricing concept borrowed (?) from the airline industry, where prices are changed daily based on demand, is expanding its use in a downward direction. Hit shows now commonly raise their ticket prices for Spring Break, Christmas week, etc. when the demand is super high. This is done without fanfare and often without the awareness of the general public.
But what happens to shows that are not selling out? Or shows that can’t sell full-price tickets in certain sections of the orchestra or mezzanine because the public only want the best or the cheapest. “Dynamic Pricing” is now being considered as a way to reduce the prices of less-desirable seating locations on a moment’s notice, rather than losing the box office sale. For example, why pay full-price for a rear mezzanine seat when you can buy an orchestra seat for the same or lower price by standing on line at the TKTS half-price booth on the day of the show? Better seat at the same cost. Reducing ‘unsellable’ seats at a “dynamic” discount keeps the public going to the box office and sells tickets in advance.
Of course, in older decades, shows had up to 9 different prices, regularly advertised, for seats: far sides, too close, too far back, etc. This may just be another way to do the same thing.
Chapter 10 (Producers): Wait…There’s more!
What’s the best time of year to open a new show? In the “crap-shoot” that is Broadway, there’s no way to be sure…EXCEPT: 2017 gives warning to producers about opening in a crowded field of new shows. New shows opening in the two months before the Tony Award deadline include: Groundhog Day, Amelia, Anastasia, Come From Away, Sweat, Glass Menagerie (Sally Field), Significant Other, War Paint (Patti Lupone), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Hello Dolly (Bette Midler), Oslo, The Play that Goes Wrong, Indecent, Bandstand, Six Degrees of Separation, and a few more! Is there enough audience to fill the seats at full price? Dear Evan Hansen and Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812 have already established themselves as popular shows. They opened before the crunch. Major discounts abound for everything even if the houses look full. How many of these new shows will survive past July 4th? Less than two-thirds. How many of these shows will survive past Labor Day? Less than half? And most of them at discount prices. And that translates into a total loss for investors.