More on the price war.

I stumbled across this article in the fancy Atlantic a while ago about everyone’s favorite subject . . . “Why are ticket prices so expensive?”

There are two things about the article that I really love:

1 – It includes a graph, and I’m a sucker for graphs.


2 – At the end of the article the author says . . .

I’ve just moved to New York, and so to make myself feel at home in this strange and hyper-kinetic city, I decided to make my first city post about the most obvious of New York topics: complaining about how expensive things are. And compound the cliche, I’m going to talk about Broadway.

Broadway is an easy target for its high cost . . . it always has been, and unfortunately it always will be.  The author, Derek Thompson, even acknowledges that early on with a statement from an economist about how it’s very difficult “to make a string quartet more efficient” and his own thesis that . . .

Prices are people, and theater is labor-intensive work, and that makes a night at the theater necessarily an expensive thing to consume.

So then what is he complaining about?

The rate at which prices have gone up . . . and this is where the graph comes in.

I won’t be a spoiler and give away his ending, but let’s just say that Mr. Thompson may be new-to-New York, but he ain’t no newbie when it comes to understanding one element of why prices have gone up.  My only two nit-pickies about the article is that he neglected to graph  the alarming rate at which expenses have gone up over the same period . . . so higher ticket prices are an attempt to counteract those costs.  Just because prices have gone up, doesn’t mean profitability has gone up.

And most importantly, the discount revolution during the last twenty years has made cheaper tickets available in greater volume, which requires Producers to try and balance that out by getting more from the top. (See this post about Discounts Eroding Full Price Sales that has a few fancy graphs of its own.)

But I’m being that annoying dude who gives away the movie before you’ve gotten a chance to see it.  It’s a great article, and I applaud the Atlantic for giving Broadway some space.

You can read it here.

And welcome to NYC, Mr. Thompson.  Yes, it’s an expensive place to be.  And Broadway is expensive too.

But there’s no place like it on earth.  And no better experience anywhere.

And that, my friend, is worth every penny.


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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.