New bill seeks to shake up Broadway ticketing activity


Broadway ticket prices can no longer defy gravity.

After launching an investigation into the top ticket sellers, New York State Senator James Skoufis introduced a bill last week to transform the Broadway box office industry. “The current laws, in my opinion, are still too oriented towards certain players in the industry, and we must make them more favorable to consumers,” he insisted.

The potential legislation targets a widespread practice known as “dynamic pricing,” in which Broadway producers tinker with ticket prices based on fluctuations in demand. The producers “start with historically historically priced tickets for what we think is a popular play, then they wait and see,” Syracuse University economics professor Robert Florence said. “[I]If the queue is still over, ticket prices keep going up, ”he said, in the same way that airlines often increase ticket prices as more and more people. reserve seats.

“The way shows make money is based on the ratio of average ticket price to capacity,” said Amanda Pekoe, Broadway Advertising Manager. “Dynamic pricing allows shows to play with these two elements and be competitive in the market, taking advantage of supply and demand,” she explained.

For example, in 2011, the Shubert Organization discovered that the demand for tickets to Hugh Jackman’s concert at its Broadhurst Theater exceeded the ticket supply, and it used dynamic pricing to increase the price of certain orchestra seats. from $ 155 to $ 175, and increase the price of premium seats from $ 250 to $ 350. “People are willing to pay a lot more than what we charge, but no one in the theater industry would have benefited,” noted its president, Bob Wankel. The Scalpers were selling tickets at higher prices than at the box office, and “[b]y [raising prices] with dynamic pricing, at least the people who do the work and took the risk get benefits, ”he said.

“Several shows are increasing their income a little here, a little there, because they have figured out how to better price seats,” observed the late Managing Director Alan Wasser in 2011.

But the proposed ticketing law will cap the benefits of using dynamic pricing.

According to the new bill, ticket sellers would be “prohibited from charging higher prices for tickets in similar sections and rows which are then offered for sale to the general public after the date they were originally put on sale.” . In other words, if Broadway producers wait to gauge market demand before releasing certain tickets, they must sell the new tickets at the same price as the original tickets. Producers will no longer be able to increase the prices of new tickets released in a previous block after Tony Awards wins.

In addition, the proposal will end exclusive ticketing offers.

The bill states that “[a] the contract between an entertainment venue operator and a primary ticket vendor should not provide that the primary ticket vendor is the sole and sole primary ticket vendor for the entertainment venue operator. The Shubert Organization would not be able to sell tickets for shows in its theaters exclusively through Telecharge, the Nederlander Organization might sell tickets for shows for its theaters exclusively through Ticketmaster, and Jujamcyn Theaters would not be able to sell tickets for shows in its cinemas exclusively through SeatGeek.

In addition, the statute proposed by Senator Skoufis aims to change the way prices are presented to consumers.

Responding to the call for regulation from major ticket sellers, the bill would require all ticketing sites to report the total price of each ticket, including all fees and charges, at the start of each transaction. Customers would be able to compare prices better on websites and no longer be shocked to see excessive service charges added right before entering their payment information.

In addition, the proposal would require that the original price printed on each Broadway ticket be “displayed clearly and conspicuously as part of every ticket advertisement or resale offer” on every ticket resale website. Theatergoers would need to buy tickets on StubHub transparently, for example, how much each ticket is normally sold at the box office.

The New York State Senate Investigations and Government Operations Committee is currently reviewing the bill and will determine whether or not to send the bill to the Senate soon.