Sunday, December 11, 2011

As If Escalating Broadway Ticket Prices For Hot-Selling Shows Aren’t Enough

Broadway's Spider-man: Turn Off The Dark is currently one of Ticketmaster's best -selling shows; Spidey ticket prices range from $76 to nearly $200 plus the web site's controversial processing fees; image c/o ticketmaster.com
New York, December 11, 2011 – Strong ticket sales are crucial to the life expectancy of musicals on Broadway. David Thompson, John Kander, and Fred Ebb’s Scottsboro Boys, a musical based on the 1931 Scottsboro Boys trial: nine African-American teenage boys accused of rape in Alabama; Terrence McNally, Stephen Flaherty, and Lynn Ahren’s Ragtime, a musical that follows the intertwined stories of three groups of Americans – the immigrants, the white Anglo-Saxon protestants, and African Americans – set in the turn of the 20th century America; and Floyd Mutrux and Collin Escott’s Baby It’s You!, a musical based on the life story of Florence Greenberg whose claim to fame was discovering the African-American girl group The Shirelles in the 1960s, were some of Broadway’s recent casualties due to poor ticket sales. And while Scottsboro Boys, Ragtime, Baby It’s You! et al. are getting the boot, hit Broadway musicals such as Trey Parker, Matt Stone, Robert Lopez’s The Book of Mormon; Bono and The Edge’s Spider-man: Turn Off The Dark; and Disney Theatrical Productions’ The Lion King have been packing their houses to the hilt and raising their ticket prices as well.

As if these escalating show ticket prices for hot-selling Broadway shows aren’t enough, Ticketmaster.com, a popular ticket sales and distribution web site,  has recently been found guilty of profiting from its deceptive processing fees for these Broadway shows and numerous live concerts, among others, for the past 12 years.

Rock singer Reeve Carney
(Spider-man) gets a kiss from
Broadway actress Jennifer Damiano
(Mary Jane Watson) during
Spider-man: Turn Off the Dark's
curtain call; photo c/o pop-break.com
“Tickemaster is giving back, but not because it's the holiday season.

As the result of a class-action lawsuit, the ticket-pushing behemoth is going to be handing out $1.50 per ticket (up to 17) to everyone who used the site between October 21, 1999 and October 19, 2011. Those who chose the UPS shipping option will be getting a little bit more back: an additional $5.00 credit per order.

It seems Ticketmaster's processing fees were deemed deceptive because they did not clearly state that Ticketmaster was profiting from them.” (HuffingtonPost.com, December 12, 2011)

Ironically, Ticketmaster can continue profiting from its processing fees as long as the company discloses these fees as profit on its web site. Life’s unfair, indeed.

Broadway shows’ flashy television advertisements, and Broadway news sites BroadwayWorld.com and Theatermania.com endorse Ticketmaster.com as their official ticket brokers; and Ticketmaster’s tickets prices are certainly steeper compared to other ticket vendors such as the same-day-tickets at the TKTS discount booth in Duffy Square in Times Square. Purchasing a single balcony ticket to Broadway’s Spider-man: Turn of the Dark at the TKTS booth can cost $70.00 plus processing fee; while buying the same balcony ticket from Ticketmaster can cost around six or nine dollars more plus processing fee. Ergo, the fact that Ticketmaster has been offering more expensive tickets compared to other ticket options, profiting further under the guise of processing charges, whether it’s disclosed or not, should be avoided – there’s a rather incredible ethical lapse here.

“Theater [show] prices have gone sky-high--$100 for a musical is now the norm. But this is New York, and there's nothing New Yorkers hate more than paying retail. The truth is, Broadway has become a lot like the airline industry: If you know what you're doing, you can spend a fraction of what the person next to you did.” (Budget Travel, April 2005)

Oliver Oliveros is regional site editor, author, and photographer at BroadwayWorld.com. You may follow him on twitter.com/OliverOliveros.