Broadway’s End of Season Results for 2012

Buzzer sound!  The fourth and final quarter of the 2012 Broadway season is over.  Can you believe it?  Another year come and gone.

And this one was a beaut . . . depending on how you look at it.

Once again, the press release reads that we’ve posted the highest grossing Broadway season in history!  (I mean, we’re getting to be a bit like the Jerry Lewis telethon . . . always beating last year.)  But, unlike Jerry, we didn’t beat last year by a buck.  We beat last season by a few million bucks.

This year’s total take at the box office was a whopping  $1,139,311,457.  Last year, we did a paltry 1.08 billion, which means we bumped our numbers by 5.4%.

You can’t argue with that increase, can you?

Can you?

Well, see it’s not just about dollars.  It’s also about butts in seats.

Did that increase by 5.4% as well?

Unfortunately, as has been in years past, the answer is no.

Attendance remained flat this year, with 12.33 million bodies coming through the Shubert/Nederlander/Jujamcyn doors.

Prior year’s body count, you ask?  12.3 million.

More dollars, same bodies.

Getting the picture?

The great news is that these numbers prove we’re really starting to master the art of variable and dynamic pricing, “taking advantage” of the demand for certain shows.

The bad news is that 5.4% increase is probably coming primarily from the handful of big fat hits on the street (give me a couple of days to dig through the data to see if I’m right), and the majority of the shows are fighting for whatever of the business remains.

The gap between the monster hit and the medium sized show is getting wider.  And as the big shows do better, our vendors and unions have to price themselves accordingly, which means the middle-of-the-road shows suffer.  (Unless we start looking at premium pricing for labor and such for shows that have mastered premium pricing.)

What’ll happen next year?

You don’t have to have a crystal ball to predict that once again our grosses will go up.  And once again, our attendance will remain flat.

How can we break this trend?  No one has really figured that out yet.

But we should get on it.  Because increasing attendance is the only way we ensure we have an audience for tomorrow.


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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.