Why are our grosses going up anyway?

Last week, the Broadway League issued their latest record-breaking report about the Broadway season (You can read the Executive Summary here).

As we all know, and as we’ve all celebrated, Broadway has been on a decent ride over the past couple of decades, with grosses rising year after year, even topping the one billion mark a few seasons ago.

But why?

Is it the increasing strength of the Broadway brand? Is it the mega musicals like Wicked, Mormon and yep, Spider-Man, drawing more and more international tourists? Is it more stars from tinsel town increasing demand for premium tickets?

Yeah, it’s all those things.

But I also think it’s something much simpler.

We all know that the tourist is the primary component of our audience, representing about 65% of the whole. So . . . yep, you’re getting it, aren’t you.

Take a look at this graph of New York City tourist growth since 1992.


Now, compare that graph with this one, which charts the growth of Broadway grosses.

See the similarity?

Tourists up?  Grosses up.  Simple correlation.

This isn’t a huge revelation, by any means, but the graphs are so similar that it tells me two things:

– We owe a huge debt of gratitude to the city and the businesses that helped clean up Times Square and re-establish the district as a tourist destination.  We tip our top hats to thee.

– In order to grow our audiences further, perhaps some of our resources should be spent nationally, and internationally, encouraging more and more tourists to come to the city . . . for any reason . . . not just for us.  Because when people come to NYC, they take in a show. I Love New York campaigns, Come to the City, etc. could be what helps us break through the records we’re already setting.  (In a case of tragic irony, I expect the 9/11 Memorial and the Freedom Tower to add significant numbers of tourists to the city when they are completed.)

There is a coda to this story, and unfortunately it’s not as full of puppy dogs and rainbows as this blog.

Check in tomorrow for another graph, and a somewhat sadder tale.


(Got a comment? I love ‘em, so comment below!  Click here then scroll down to say what’s on your mind!)



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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.