Why Broadway’s Record-Breaking Gross of $1.7b is NOT Accurate.

Just yesterday, the headlines trumpeted that Broadway just had its best grossing year evah . . .  with a total tally of $1,697,458,795 in ticket sales for the ’17-18 season.

In case you can’t count all those commas, that’s just shy of $1.7 billion buckaroos.

And, if you’re keeping score, that’s a 17.1% increase over the previous year’s grosses of $1.45b.  (If you’ve heard me deliver a keynote on the future of Broadway, you now know why I’ve been calling it a growth industry, and also why I’ve said if there was a Broadway Index Fund, I’d be buying it like mad.)

But here’s the thing, folks . . . that $1.7b in ticket sales is as wrong as taking a seven-year-old to see Avenue Q because it has puppets.

Broadway did NOT sell $1.7b worth of tickets last year.

Broadway sold a lot MORE than $1.7b worth of tickets last year.

That’s right, our gross was actually higher than reported.  (Side note: raise your hand if you read the subject of this blog and thought I was going to say that the grosses were lower, just because I said the # was wrong.  Why is it we always assume the negative?  Anyway . . . )

How did we sell more than the dollars reported?  Did the Broadway League forget to count a theater?

Of course not.  The Broadway League got their count just right.

But what is NOT included in the above gross is the amount of money ‘above face value’ paid for Broadway tickets in the SECONDARY MARKET.

I’m talking about StubHub, SeatGeek, and all the other resellers out there who have made millions reselling HamiltonDear Evan Hansen, and many non-mega hits as well, to their clientele that doesn’t mind paying above face-value for their seats.

So how much more? Well, no one knows for sure, but if we sold $1.7b worth of tickets, I gotta estimate that there was at least $300mm in above-face-value monies made by secondary sellers.  And I think that’s a LOW estimate.

That means Broadway is a $2b industry.

How did we get here?  And will we top this next year?

Tune in for next week’s blog (click here to subscribe) and I’ll reveal my Top 3 Reasons Why We Topped $1.7 $2 Billion and make my predictions for next year’s gross.

Related Posts


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.