If tourists go up, Broadway grosses go up. But what about bodies?

Yesterday, we drew the very simple conclusion that when there are more tourists in the city, Broadway grosses are bound to go up.  See the graphs in yesterday’s blog if you’d like a reminder.

Today, as promised, I have to draw another graph and a more unsettling conclusion.  It’s one that I’ve drawn before, and frankly, I’m beginning to feel like one of those crazy cult leaders that keeps yapping about an end of the world theory.  Only difference is, I do have some data.

Let’s take a look at that first graph we drew yesterday that charts the growth of the number of tourists coming to New York City since 1992.


Now, let’s not compare that to grosses this time.  Let’s compare that to actual audience attendance, or the number of physical bodies that walk through our theater doors.  Ready?

To quote a Christmas Carol, “Do you see what I see?”

After dramatic increases in the early 90s, we went flat in 1998.  Then there was a modest increase in 2006 and we’ve  been marginally up/down ever since . . . despite a drastic increase in tourists during the same period.

Again, I go back to yesterday . . . more tourists, more dollars . . . but not necessarily more bodies.

And that gives me the ooglies.  (Ooglies = My childhood word for when I got spooked out.)

What’s the cause?  Is our ticket price inflating at a higher rate than in previous decades?  Is it the adoption of premium ticketing?  Do tourists have more options of things to do in NYC and we’re not staying high enough on the list?  Has our audience flatlined because we’ve actually hit a ceiling on the number of people that are interested in Broadway shows?

So many questions.  Some of which I’m going to dig into on future blogs.

Until then, I do know this:  Our revenue is increasing.  The number of tourists in our fair city is increasing.  Our market share is not.

Oh, there is one other thing that is increasing.  Our expenses.  And that, combined with the above, really gives me the ooglies.


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Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.