As Broadway readies for the winter downturn, 19 shows have opted into NYC Broadway Week.
During the week, the 19 shows are offering select tickets in a two-for-one deal, in a partnership between The Broadway League and NYC and Company, the tourism and marketing organization for the city, which helps advertise the program. The promotion, which began in 2011, is meant to boost sales and the local economy during a slow tourism period in the city.
“This is an effort really to help Broadway during a key need-period,” said Chris Heywood, senior vice president of global communication at NYC and Company.
In January of last year, for example, Broadway grosses plummeted from a holiday high of $49.7 million, in the week ended Jan. 1 and declined weekly to reach $21.7 million in the week ended Jan. 20. The decline continued into February, before picking back up in March.
This year, Broadway Week runs from Jan. 16 to Feb. 4.
NYC & Company and the League also host a Broadway Week in late summer, another slow period on Broadway.
The tickets are not subsidized, meaning the shows themselves are taking on the discount. However, Charlotte St. Martin, president of The Broadway League, says getting audiences into the theater during a slow ticket selling period is worth it for the shows.
“They’re filling seats in a time that seats aren’t filled,” said St. Martin, who is also on the executive committee of NYC & Company.
The week is also meant to bring in new audiences. St. Martin said that 40% of tickets sold during Broadway Week are to first-time Broadway buyers. Once those buyers see one show, they’re more likely to go to others, she said.
Since 2011, the two Broadway Weeks have cumulatively sold more than 1.13 million tickets, amounting to $77 million in revenue.
Participation in Broadway Week is voluntary. There are 19 shows involved this year, including “SpongeBob SquarePants,” “Farinelli and the King” and “Hello, Dolly!” with Bernadette Peters, as well as repeat participants such as “The Lion King.”
Some blockbuster shows such as “Hamilton” and “Book of Mormon” are not part of the promotion — St. Martin noted that shows need to have a certain number of seats available to participate in the week.
Bringing people to Broadway shows that week is also meant to help lift the city’s economy.
“It’s typically a slower time for travel in New York,” Heywood said.
Hotel occupancy in New York was at 71% for January 2017 and 2016, compared to occupancy of 92% in October 2017, a busier time of year. The average daily room rate in January 2016 was $218, compared to $351 in October 2017.
To that end, hotels are participating in Broadway Week for the first time this year, offering a $25 daily food and beverage credit to Broadway Week ticket holders who stay at their hotels between Jan. 15 and Feb. 4.