Premium Tickets: Frustration with Broadway Pricing

ARTc
Stand-by
joined:11/4/11
I am an avid theater goer. I am also a seat snob. I want to sit in a very defined area of the house: usually orchestra center between 5 - 10 rows back from the stage.

For a few years, I was thrilled to be able to see Broadway at discounted prices. As this policy caught on, I found more and more that my chosen seats were no longer included in this pricing. Only shows that weren't doing well offered this opportunity. Makes sense, and I appreciated the producer's situation. So, I adapted and for those shows that I couldn't wait to see, I became willing to pay full price.

Then came The Book of Mormon! Ugh!

The Book of Mormon (BOM) sells all of its center orchestra - except the very last rows - at premium pricing. In fact, the only tickets I could get for BOM at full price were the pair that runs along the side wall or the very last two rows of the orchestra! Willing to wait a year made absolutely no difference. I refused to support this policy with my dollars, so I decided that cancellations was the only way I'd be able to see this show.

Fast forward to now. Once, offers regular priced tickets from row L back. The same with Pippin and many other shows. All of the seats in the center orchestra, except the first row(s) and the last row(s) are reserved for premium.

I am wondering if there is some legal issue here: perhaps false advertising. Regular tickets are no longer $150ish, they are now $200+ sometimes as much as $500, yet the box offices still report the lesser price.

I am beyond frustrated. I am angry.

I would like to suggest - any producers following this thread? - that one or two rows in the prime spot of a Broadway theater, or even a pair, be held at regular price. I am willing to wait. I am not willing to pay premium prices.

Updated On: 3/11/13 at 12:49 PM
artscallion
Broadway Legend
joined:5/15/07
I'm the same as you. Will only sit in that prime 5-10 rows center. Though I've been annoyed by premium seating, I've been able to avoid it completely while still getting that specific area seating...this includes Book of Mormon...twice. The only thing I can say is that it's all in the timing and you have to be flexible on dates. I sometimes spend a month or two checking and rechecking dates until something pops up.

Sometimes prime seats aren't sold at prime prices right away. SO you can sometimes snatch some up if you buy early enough. Other times, Primes get turned into regular closer to the performance date. Just takes more work than it used to. And I feel your pain. But you CAN find your way around it.
Art has a double face, of expression and illusion.
ARTc
Stand-by
joined:11/4/11
Wow! I am surprised to read your post as I am the guy who endlessly sits at my computer or walks up to the box office to try and find that deal. I have been to the BOM box office over 10 times and no go, finally accepting that cancellations was the only way I'd be able to see the show. For many other shows, I have been online endlessly checking dates.

I am really pleased to read that the opportunity is still there. I guess my experiences both online and box offices with BOM, Once and Pippin got me down. I have tried with those shows on many occasions to find that rare deal. I am patient. I am just not made of money. Even $150 is a lot for me.
oasisjeff
Broadway Star
joined:11/15/07
Other shows are even worse. I had the same issue with Orphans and I'll Eat You Last...

I'll Eat You Last seemed to not even open up its best premium tickets during both the Amex pre-sale and regular on sale, as the premium ticket I was offered for a Monday night 3/4 into the run was row L, and this was the minute the pre-sale/sale began, so it seems like early ticketing was meant to sell the lesser seats first, and then if demand is established, raise the prices for the best seats in the house even higher.

I was willing to pay full price to get a great seat for Bette, but even when I looked at Premium (without planning to buy one), they weren't the best seats.

And, to be clear, this is a show where the producers have said ticket sales have been lighter than they expected. Probably because everyone who tried to buy early decided they could get a bad seat without paying full price or locking in early.
Now t/d/b/a haterobics on here.
millie_dillmount
Broadway Legend
joined:4/22/04
While I agree with you, unfortunately, as long as people are buying them and/or the show is in high demand, producers will bump up the cost these prime seats to premium prices.

I can be more lenient in my seating choices. I don't mind sitting in the side orchestra, as long as it is not too far over/far back and does not obstruct my view. Sometimes the side orchestra seats sell at the normal price. I've also gotten what you would call premium seats for regular price, as if they don't sell, they'll go on sale to the general public. For example, when I saw Jersey Boys a few years back, I bought a 6th row center ticket for regular price.

I also don't like pre-sales. Most of these pre-sales are through Amex. As someone who doesn't have an Amex card, it makes it difficult to get tickets to certain shows with limited runs, such as tours. For example, the Book of Mormon tour had an Amex presale. I had someone with an Amex card buy tickets. When tickets went on sale to the public, I couldn't really find any good seats.
"We like to snark around here. Sometimes we actually talk about theater...but we try not to let that get in our way." - dramamama611
ARTc
Stand-by
joined:11/4/11
I am glad that I'm not alone in this.

If a producer reads this, please know that I truly understand the dilemma you're in. Broadway is a business. I get that. I just think there is something very wrong with advertising your full price, but not allowing access to those seats - house seats and SOME premium not withstanding.

House seats and premium seats are a necessity. And, I appreciate that they offset the costs of the discount codes we've all become way too comfortable with. How about a compromise. Like artscallion above posted, can there be at least some excellent seats available to those who are willing to do the work and perhaps wait. Can the patron be informed while at the box office that these seats are available - perhaps a very select few - if you're willing to wait.

On box office protocol... I have often gone up to the window and said, I am open to any night. This is hugely frustrating to the attendant. They need a date to enter into their system. Can this be changed, too. I am that rare theater goer who is willing to be hugely flexible, if I can be accommodated with great seats.



Updated On: 3/11/13 at 01:28 PM
FindingNamo
Broadway Legend
joined:7/22/03
I can't ever afford premium tickets, nor do I have the time or patience to invest in hitting refresh for six months in the hopes of a magic seat opening. My life has never been appreciably worse for missing a Broadway production or orginal cast of any play.
yes, you
suestorm
Broadway Legend
joined:1/15/13
premium seats are capitlism at its best... supply and demand 101
FINDINGNAMO, SNAFU, THEATERDIVE, JORDANCATALONO, LIZASHEADBAND, PALJOEY: You all claim to "IGNORE ME" I wish you would and stop constantly commenting on my posts. Thanks ...................................................................................................................................... The MOST POPULAR and DANGEROUS Poster on BWW! Banned by the PTA, PTC and the MEANGIRLS of BWW..................................................................................................................... ...Ukraine Girls really knock me out, they leave the west behind..........................
ARTc
Stand-by
joined:11/4/11
or its worse...
suestorm
Broadway Legend
joined:1/15/13
ARTc i would agree with you if they didnt make regular priced seats or discount seats available. and think about it, the Premium Prices they charge allow them to Discount more seats, may performers etc
FINDINGNAMO, SNAFU, THEATERDIVE, JORDANCATALONO, LIZASHEADBAND, PALJOEY: You all claim to "IGNORE ME" I wish you would and stop constantly commenting on my posts. Thanks ...................................................................................................................................... The MOST POPULAR and DANGEROUS Poster on BWW! Banned by the PTA, PTC and the MEANGIRLS of BWW..................................................................................................................... ...Ukraine Girls really knock me out, they leave the west behind..........................
ARTc
Stand-by
joined:11/4/11
I too appreciate premium pricing in that it makes discount seats possible. I hope I've made that clear in my earlier posts. I am just asking that there be a compromise. Premium priced tickets and full priced tickets both having access to similar sections of the house. Full priced tickets can be more limited for those shows doing great box office, but at least have the opportunity of sitting in similar quality seats for those patrons willing to wait.

I am also curious to know if Audience Rewards allows you to choose your seating location. Does anyone know?
adam.peterson44
Broadway Star
joined:9/7/11
I have heard in interviews that the rationale for "premium" pricing was that during The Producers, the best seats were being re-sold by scalpers for hundreds more than their face value, so much of that profit was being diverted to people who had nothing to do with making the show a success (its investors, creative team, etc.). By making it possible for people who wanted great seats, security in knowing what seat they have ahead of time, and minimal time to spend on searching to get those seats by paying the show's producers what they would have paid scalpers, they made it more rewarding to those putting on a show, which in my opinion is a good thing.

As you said, there are other less-secure options for getting great seats cheaper that are more time consuming (rush, lotto, cancellations, etc.), which is fair. Or for getting worse seats cheaper and with security. When I was in my 20's there was no such thing as rush or lotto, so the only way to see a professional show back then was to sit in the back row of the balcony. At least people nowadays have other options to trade time for great seats instead of money (which is also essentially trading time for people who have to work long hours for the money and therefore don't have enough of it left to wait in rush or TKTS or lotto lines).

But i do think it is dishonest to list the "regular" price as the "top" price of the ticket range as "seats from $59-$149" only to find that the top price is really $299 and not $149 at all. Like airlines that say the fare is $59 and then when you buy the ticket they charge you $189, which includes "fuel surcharge" fees and the like, as if flying a plane without fuel were ever an option. Imagine if they charged for groceries that way - Milk $0.04/gallon, plus $1.29 cow-milking surcharge. The actual top prices (the ones called premium) should be listed as the upper end of ticket price ranges, for honesty in advertising.


Updated On: 3/11/13 at 02:41 PM
suestorm
Broadway Legend
joined:1/15/13
"But i do think it is dishonest to list the "regular" price as the "top" price of the ticket range as "seats from $59-$149" only to find that the top price is really $299 and not $149 at all."

i do see your point here.

and i do see their point with the scalpers. i would rather the production, actors get the money then the scalpers though

FINDINGNAMO, SNAFU, THEATERDIVE, JORDANCATALONO, LIZASHEADBAND, PALJOEY: You all claim to "IGNORE ME" I wish you would and stop constantly commenting on my posts. Thanks ...................................................................................................................................... The MOST POPULAR and DANGEROUS Poster on BWW! Banned by the PTA, PTC and the MEANGIRLS of BWW..................................................................................................................... ...Ukraine Girls really knock me out, they leave the west behind..........................
Updated On: 3/11/13 at 02:44 PM
Kelly2
Broadway Legend
joined:1/5/07
I agree that it has gotten out of control how many seats are blocked out for premium pricing. I have no problem with a few rows being "premium", especially given the scalper issue, but to make every decent seat in the theatre 300$ or more is pretty ridiculous.
"Get mad, then get over it." - Colin Powell
ARTc
Stand-by
joined:11/4/11
adam.peterson44 I wholeheartedly agree with your post. I think the source of my anger is the inherent dishonesty per your post. Thank you for articulating it far better than I was able to.

I would appreciate yet another opportunity, other than cancelations, to access "best" seats, as I've outlined in my other posts. I think my idea of holding a select few of these seats at what is today called, "full-price" would satisfy me. Or, as I questioned, what is the deal regarding choosing your seats with Audience Rewards. Perhaps, this luxury becomes available to those of us who are regular patrons. (Its not like I'm not spending thousands of dollars a year on my theatre habit - I am.)

So... producers, if you're reading, how about more integrity in your pricing structure. Be honest and upfront and advertise your top ticket price as what is being now called, premium, as it truly is your full price. Offer a few seats each performance at a slightly more reasonable price for those willing to wait, or who have proven themselves regular patrons. Continue to offer the discounts for those who want to attend and need their seats to be "subsidized" by those willing to pay the top price. And, of course thank you for the opportunity your lottos and rush provides for those who need them to attend.









Updated On: 3/11/13 at 02:54 PM
Fosse76
Broadway Legend
joined:3/21/05
ARTc i would agree with you if they didnt make regular priced seats or discount seats available. and think about it, the Premium Prices they charge allow them to Discount more seats, may performers etc

Yeah, that's nonsense. They do not need to charge for premium seating in order to be able to offer "regular" price seats at $140 or to discount more seats. They are simply trying to extract as much money as they can from regular theatregoers. Producers were annoyed that scalpers were making a fortune on their product. They saw the market existed for these high-cost seats and went for it. Generally, if you wait for the last minute to go the box office, the premium seats that haven't been sold will be released at regular price...but I'm talking right before curtain.
adam.peterson44
Broadway Star
joined:9/7/11
About Audience Rewards - i am fairly new to the program and so have only redeemed points for a free ticket once so far, and the show has not yet happened, so I don't know how good the seat will end up being. It is front row but off to the side, so it will either be pretty good or obstructed view - i don't know yet. I did not have the option of selecting it - they told me where the seat would be a week or so after I redeemed the points for it. But hey, free seat, so even if it is not a great one, it would be hard to complain about the price.


And really, that's not so different from any show that uses telecharge, where they don't let you choose your seats either, and Telecharge's idea of "best available" seems to discriminate heavily against people buying a single ticket. For example, twice I have been put off to the side in an obstructed-view seat that was not labeled as such (for example, actors were invisible while they were singing because they were too far to the side to see from the seat), while empty seats in clumps of two existed closer to the center, that they presumably didn't make available to a single-seat buyer in the "best available" option. I now tend to buy tickets in advance only from shows that use Ticketmaster or from shows that have their own website that allows seat selection (Roundabout or some Off-Broadway stuff), and leave the telecharge shows for purchasing only at the box office, and then only if they have decent seats left at reasonable prices. But that is not what you asked about, so i'll stop ranting here about telecharge and return the thread back to its topic - ranting about premium prices. :)
ARTc
Stand-by
joined:11/4/11
Out of fairness to producers, I should add this story...

My frustration a few months back led me to email a producer I have access to. I won't mention names as that would be ungracious. I had attempted to purchase tickets to a show I knew s/he was associated with that had yet to start performances. I wrote an email with a similar sentiment to the one I've expressed here. In response, this producer graciously offered me the ability to purchase a house seat at the full price.

Of course I was very appreciative and have thanked them. My war isn't with producers. They are businessmen investing their time and talent in very creative accounting for the arts. I truly appreciate their struggle. I truly want a compromise. I want to be able to continue to afford excellent seats at a fair price - not discounted, not premium.
Mr Roxy
Broadway Legend
joined:5/17/03
Wait a darn minute here. I am the only one officially sanctioned to complain about high ticket prices.It is a moot point as I will be retire mid April and my wife is forced to take early retirement in May as she cannot get a job inthis red hot economy Obama keeps telling us about. Three degrees and speaks French with managerial experience and knowledge of wine.You know what that gets her ungotz on toast.

A deal for us or no theater so I could care less. Charge $500 a seat. I could care less.

Cynicism is an unpleasant way of saying the truth - Lillian Hellman.
millie_dillmount
Broadway Legend
joined:4/22/04
About Audience Rewards - i am fairly new to the program and so have only redeemed points for a free ticket once so far, and the show has not yet happened, so I don't know how good the seat will end up being. It is front row but off to the side, so it will either be pretty good or obstructed view - i don't know yet. I did not have the option of selecting it - they told me where the seat would be a week or so after I redeemed the points for it. But hey, free seat, so even if it is not a great one, it would be hard to complain about the price.


And really, that's not so different from any show that uses telecharge, where they don't let you choose your seats either, and Telecharge's idea of "best available" seems to discriminate heavily against people buying a single ticket. For example, twice I have been put off to the side in an obstructed-view seat that was not labeled as such (for example, actors were invisible while they were singing because they were too far to the side to see from the seat), while empty seats in clumps of two existed closer to the center, that they presumably didn't make available to a single-seat buyer in the "best available" option. I now tend to buy tickets in advance only from shows that use Ticketmaster or from shows that have their own website that allows seat selection (Roundabout or some Off-Broadway stuff), and leave the telecharge shows for purchasing only at the box office, and then only if they have decent seats left at reasonable prices. But that is not what you asked about, so i'll stop ranting here about telecharge and return the thread back to its topic - ranting about premium prices. :)


Adam.peterson44: When I saw Mamma Mia through Audience Rewards (this was a few years back), the ticket agent told me upfront where the seats would be located. I am not sure if the policy has changed or if it varies depending on the show.

Also, Telecharge DOES let you select your own seats. They revamped their site. Visually it sucks (FYI), but there a couple of features I do like, such as the ability to select your own seats. I noticed this option wasn't available for all shows, like Book of Mormon in Jersey Boys. However you can let Telecharge choose the best available for you. Ticketmaster has the same option (choose your own seats or get the best available), but, again, it is not available for all shows.
"We like to snark around here. Sometimes we actually talk about theater...but we try not to let that get in our way." - dramamama611
muscle23ftl
Broadway Legend
joined:12/19/04
"While I agree with you, unfortunately, as long as people are buying them and/or the show is in high demand, producers will bump up the cost these prime seats to premium prices"

Agreed, if you don't agree with the ticket prices, DON'T BUY THEM!

I would never pay us$300 for a show like Book of Mormon, I paid us$69 and boy, it still hurts, the show was not my cup of tea. Never again.

When shows only offer prices like those, I will skip them!
"People have their opinions and that doesn't mean that their opinions are wrong or right. I just take it with a grain of salt because opinions are like as*holes, everyone has one". -Felicia Finley-
adam.peterson44
Broadway Star
joined:9/7/11
Thanks for that information. I had tried for several different shows clicking on the "choose your own seats" option, and got a black window with nothing to click on except for an option that said "click here for accessible 2-D seat map" (as opposed to the 3-D "seat map" that was really just a black square. But the 2-D seat map doesn't allow selection, so it was back to having to let them choose the seats, even on the new website. That was in January, so maybe they have fixed the bug on the website since then (i haven't tried to buy tickets from them since then).
millie_dillmount
Broadway Legend
joined:4/22/04
For people in my generation (I'm mid-20s), remember when TOP ticket prices were like $90-100? And discounted seats were roughly $55-65? The new "discount" price is the previous "full price."
"We like to snark around here. Sometimes we actually talk about theater...but we try not to let that get in our way." - dramamama611
millie_dillmount
Broadway Legend
joined:4/22/04
Adam.peterson, you may need to download a special plug-in or use a different browser.
"We like to snark around here. Sometimes we actually talk about theater...but we try not to let that get in our way." - dramamama611
adam.peterson44
Broadway Star
joined:9/7/11
Millie, there was no information there about needing a plug-in. The next time the situation comes up, i'll try using a different browser. Hadn't thought of that before - just assumed that a website would be designed for any of the big 4 browsers commonly used on desktops, at least. Thanks for the suggestion.
ARTc
Stand-by
joined:11/4/11
Regarding purchasing tickets at the last minute... I put that under the category of cancellation. I realize this option is still available to me. For some shows this is easy, but others with a huge following, this requires spending the entire day waiting in a cancellation line.

Thanks for the information regarding Audience Rewards. I wasn't sure what their policy was regarding seating location. I would join, but I really don't want to sit in seats off to the side or very far back. I have sat in these seats and I have found it profoundly impacts my enjoyment of the show. (I wish this wasn't the case.)

As for the whole scalper issue. There is some truth in this, but it doesn't explain sectioning off an entire orchestra (sans the pair against the wall and the back two rows). At Pippin's box office yesterday, I tried to purchase full price seats at ANY future date only to be shown a seating chart that had every seat I'd be willing to sit in pink highlighted (premium). This wasn't quite as bad as BOM's chart, but it was still quite unfair and deceptively advertised.

Another interesting point... Both BOM and Pippin are in smaller houses. I wonder if this is a new policy of smart producers. Put a show in a smaller house to increase demand and charge premium.

I did not see Pippin in Boston, but my understanding is that it is a spectacle quite capable of filling a larger stage. Was it a calculated choice to book this production in a small "play" house, or were there just no larger theaters available?

Producers, please work with us here. We're your adoring audience. I may not be able to afford $500 a ticket, but I assure you I am spending far more than that on your product over the course of a year. I try and see at least one or two performances a week; not always Broadway, but some form of live performance art.



Updated On: 3/11/13 at 04:12 PM

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