The 2023-24 Broadway Season Is Over. How Did We Do?

This one is in the books.  

Broadway officially closed its financial books with the 52nd week of the season this past week.  (The symbolic season end will take place on June 16th, when the artistic books are closed and Tony Awards are doled out.)

So . . . how did we do compared to last season . . . financially? 

And more importantly, how did we do compared to the last pre-pandemic season?  Have we recovered?  Are we making progress?  

First, the numbers for the 2023-24 season:

2023-24 Broadway Season Statistics

Total Gross: $1,539,278,706

Total Attendance: 12,287,708

Total # of Playing Weeks: 1,471

Average Ticket Price: $125.27

How did that compare to the 2023-23 season?

2022-23 Broadway Season Statistics

Total Gross: $1,577,586,897

Total Attendance: 12,283,399

Total # of Playing Weeks: 1,474

Average Ticket Price: $128.43

So, last season looked like this compared to the previous one:

Gross: DOWN 2.46%

Attendance: UP .04%

Playing weeks: DOWN .20%

Average Ticket Price: DOWN 2.49%

In other words . . . the #s were flat.  Barely a change.  

Which is . . . not great.  We’re supposed to be in a recovery phase.  And we were flat.  And remember, Broadway expenses escalate much higher than inflation every year (union contracts go up annually, advertising rates, etc, etc).  That means: a flat year is a financial regression.

Now, and more importantly, let’s compare this past season to 2018-19.

2018-19 Broadway Season Statistics

Total Gross: $1,829,312,140

Total Attendance: 14,768,254

Total # of Playing Weeks: 1,737

Average Ticket Price: $123.87

So, here’s the big question . . . here is the answer to “How is Broadway recovering post-pandemic?”  

Drumroll please . . . here is how this past season compares to the last complete pre-pandemic season:

Gross: DOWN 17.22%

Attendance: DOWN 18.34%

Playing weeks: DOWN 16.58%

Average Ticket Price: UP 1.12%

Three of the four major indicators of Broadway’s financial health are down. 

And the last is flat.  

This data, and the “flat” data of this past year to the year before it, tells me that the recovery has stalled.  And the return to the “health” we had prior to the pandemic is going to take much longer than anyone expected.

Add in the aforementioned hyper Broadway inflation we are feeling right now, when expenses are 10-20% higher . . . and we’re seeing an approximately 30% swing in the bottom line . . . then you add a gross that’s down 17.22% and expenses that are up around 15% . . .  

No wonder more shows are closing quicker. 

No wonder fewer shows are recouping.

Unfortunately, based on historical data . . . the current year that we’re in is only expected to get a little worse.  The research shows that we have a “down year” every four years . . . that coincides with the Presidential Election and the Summer Olympics.  (See this post for that analysis.)

So it’s going to get a little rougher.

What do we do?

First, we must get our expenses in line.  Higher expenses and lower grosses mean shows close faster, which means less work for everyone.  Also, when shows close faster, investors get skittish, which means fewer shows, period.  (And playing weeks are already down – thanks in part to the loss of our long runners like Phantom, Come From Away, Dear Evan Hansen and even my A Beautiful Noise.)  It may SEEM like a lot of shows are happening, because a lot more shows are OPENING.  But that doesn’t mean a lot more shows are running. 

Second, we must get the Suburban Audience back.  The local market outside the city is down a whopping 30+% from pre-pandemic levels.  They are reluctant to return for a whole bunch of reasons, from the perception of crime, to the cost of commuting into the city, and the fact that their habit of theatergoing was broken for 2+ years.

Will we get back to where we were before Covid jumped up and bit us in the box office?


Will it take longer?


Will it take NEW ways of thinking?  


Will it take cooperation from everyone who has a vested interest in the health of Broadway?


We’ve been here before.  The 70s and 80s were terrible on Broadway and in the city.  Producers, Theater Owners, General Managers, Lawyers, Agents, and Vendors all came together to come up with solutions.  (The Royalty Pool was created during that era!)

We will get through this.  But it’s not going to be easy.  And doing the same thing we’ve always done isn’t going to be the fastest or best way. 

I’m up for the challenge – are you?

I look forward to reporting the season statistics in a year or two that says we’ve PASSED pre-pandemic levels . . . and MORE shows are profitable, which means more investors are investing, which means more theater and more work for everyone.

To work we go . . . 

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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.