Monday, March 17, 2014

Ticket Pricing Puts ‘Lion King’ Atop Broadway’s Circle of Life -

Ticket Pricing Puts ‘Lion King’ Atop Broadway’s Circle of Life -

'via Blog this'

You can't argue with success. But you can debate the meaning of it.

The New York Times has taken note of a very unusual event. The Lion King, the long running Disney mega-hit has at this late date reclaimed the crown of top grossing Broadway show of 2013, beating out other crown jewels of more recent Broadway vintage. Bravo, Mickey!

The article claims that, over time, Disney has learned and mastered the black art of dynamic pricing, succeeding as no one else has in maximizing the revenue of The Lion King culminating with the 2013 crown for highest gross.

The article also describes a secret algorithm that Disney employs in perfecting their dynamic pricing formulae. The Disney black box is optimized with data from past years that helps determine the optimal price for various seats in the theater.

Working on Broadway for many years, and witnessing the various promotions and marketing that routinely floats by year after year, an experienced eye and ear may become a tad jaded but along with that comes a highly developed "b.s. detector" ability. I hear that alarm ringing right now.

I think it would come as a surprise to the producers of Phantom or Chicago, that the sales data compiled over many years of a production to help determine pricing and marketing going forward is a novel and uniquely clever new methodology. Haven't they been doing this for years? This article says that Disney didn't catch on to this until 2010? Huh...?

This article also misses a very big point. When The Little Mermaid closed in 2009, and Mary Poppins closed in March of 2013, that left The Lion King as the only long running Disney mega hit standing, notwithstanding Peter and the Star Catcher and Newsies, neither one in the same league or the same demo. The "Disney fantasy movie to Broadway blockbuster niche" was left to The Lion King. Disney was no longer competing with itself, maybe the only formidable competitor Disney ever has. After years of splitting its audience with its corporate brethren, 2013 was the year The Lion King could run free.

Once again, the truth is revealed. There is nothing new under the sun. If the New York Times wants to hype Disney's pricing prowess, and tout the majestic production of The Lion King as it approaches it's 20th year on Broadway before you know it, who is Disney to object? Using sales data to steer marketing? Yeah, we have a secret algorithm. Right. Secret algorithm. Yeah, that's the ticket.

I'd be remiss to overlook an actual nugget of wisdom highlighted in the article. Disney's choice to hold the line on premium priced tickets, avoiding the pricing insanity of Book of Mormon or Kinky Boots, is credited with the longevity and strength of the show. We've seen shows die before their time due to, among other things, the wrong headed impulse to charge eye popping prices for their premium tickets. The burn out of the audience is inevitable, just ask Max Bialystok. But, don't Chicago and Phantom also have the same modest premium prices?

Once again, nothing new under the sun.

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