Nederlander & Disney Expand Official Buying Options as Broadway Struggles With Ticket Resellers

While concertgoers protest the Ticketmaster monopoly, Broadway not having a one-stop shop for tickets has led to its own problems.

By: Apr. 24, 2023
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Nederlander & Disney Expand Official Buying Options as Broadway Struggles With Ticket Resellers
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Last week, my friend Michelle, inspired by my story on Alli Mauzey's talent, went to buy tickets to KIMBERLY AKIMBO. She went to SeatGeek. Why? Because the last time she went to a show, it was FUNNY GIRL, and I told her SeatGeek was the box office, so she assumed that was true for all Broadway theaters. Except, Telecharge is the official site for KIMBERLY AKIMBO tickets. The tickets on SeatGeek were resale tickets. The price difference was $50 per ticket: the ticket price for the resale ticket was $20 higher for a mezz seat and the service fee per ticket was $30 higher.

Michelle is certainly not alone--while the concert industry suffers under a Ticketmaster monopoly, Broadway's fragmented ticket sellers present unique challenges. It used to be that the two official online sellers of Broadway tickets were Ticketmaster and The Shubert Organization-owned Telecharge, but in the last decade more sellers have entered the game. Second Stage uses its own internal ticketing. Roundabout uses its own internal system for its productions and, in July 2022, adopted another system it developed, Criterion Ticketing, for rental productions. In 2021, Jujamcyn went to SeatGeek (after switching from Telecharge to Ticketmaster five years prior). After flirting with a Telecharge-Ambassador Theatre Group hybrid when it first opened the Hudson, ATG now uses its own service for both its Broadway theaters. (Word is that after its "multi-year" contract with SeatGeek expires, Jujamcyn will move to ATG ticketing, but a spokesperson for the organizations denies there is any plan to abandon SeatGeek.) Search "Broadway tickets" on Google and the first entries are not official ticket sellers. This often leads to buyers purchasing tickets at a high base price and/or with exorbitant fees.

Luckily, there has been some progress. Since August 2021, direct box office tickets from shows at Nederlander Organization theaters and Disney's New Amsterdam are now available on Telecharge as well as Ticketmaster. These same tickets are also available from The Nederlander Organization-owned Broadway Direct, a lesser-known ticket source. (In August 2022, Nederlander purchased TixTrack, a ticketing company, and there are grumblings that the organization will eventually officially launch its own internal system.) Service fees are different depending on where one purchases, so those in-the-know can comparison shop.

"We think people really like Telecharge and they like the customer service they get with us," said Todd Rappaport, Shubert's Director of Marketing & Communications. "Being able to serve customers and offer the widest breadth of shows that they can buy is our goal."

Rappaport stressed that Telecharge customers like calling and getting real New Yorkers answering their inquiries. However, for years, producers have had concerns about Telecharge. They resent paying Shubert lucrative service fees, believe the customer-facing portion of the site is dated and question the site's stability. As a positive, however, Telecharge was built for the theater, and so its backend offers more easily accessible information for producers. (Producers pull information from ticketing services about purchases and purchasers.) Ticketmaster was the opposite--it was seen to have a better customer experience, but a worse backend. And Ticketmaster, as well as later entry SeetGeak, have another feature that riles producers: they offer resale tickets.

"Listing resale alongside direct sale is our greatest existential threat," one producer said. "Broadway is already associated with unattainable ticket prices. Now even ticket buyers who've been attending Broadway shows for decades can't get a clear read on how much a ticket costs because of sky-high asking prices from the secondary market popping up when they search for tickets."

Neither Telecharge nor Broadway Direct offers resale tickets. Both also link to or list other ticket sellers if they do not sell the tickets themselves. Ideally, having multiple official sellers ameliorates several problems--there won't be a monopoly and people will be able to find direct box office tickets easier. But there is still the problem of getting people to the relevant ticket sites or any site that lists official ticket sellers (such as the Broadway League's Until that happens, general consumers are always going to be buying tickets from third-party sellers, and they are never fully going to understand actual ticket prices. This is true irrespective of the new ticketing laws.