Saturday, July 19, 2014

TDF Playing Favorites?

TDF, the Theater Development Fund, is the non profit organization that runs the TKTS discount ticket centers in Times Square, the South Street Seaport, and in Brooklyn. They sell tickets to Broadway, Off Broadway, and to other events as well. They collect a commission on each ticket sold, and they provide many worthy programs to promote theater.

I've criticized some of their policies here on my blog in the past, but I won't rehash old complaints now. There is something I only noticed today, however, that seems to strike a somewhat dissonant chord. It may be that there it is a new policy now in force, or perhaps it may have been going on for sometime under the radar.

The Twitter account of TKTS, @TKTS, is now being used to promote specific shows. Here is the tweet that caught my eye:

IF you love @idinamenzel THEN see her on Broadway in @IfThenMusical, 40% off tonight's performance at #TKTS  via @TKTSMark

Now, I'm sure the producers of If/Then are quite pleased with this plug. I wonder how the producers of other shows, not being promoted this way, would feel about it. Especially other shows that are offering their seats for sale at the TKTS locations.

Are the producers of If/Then paying TDF for this bit of helpful promotion? If so, shouldn't the tweet be marked as a "sponsored tweet"? If not, who makes the decision what shows get to benefit from the @TKTS twitter feed?

Why is this even an issue? It has always been the policy of TKTS to provide a level playing field with regard to the shows that they sell. Ticket sellers there are discouraged from advising patrons which shows to see, a wise policy that is fair to all shows offered, and helps to keep their long lines from getting too bogged down.

Has TDF/TKTS decided to start to play favorites? If this is a new policy, or an experiment, TDF needs to be more transparent about it. They should make clear how these promotions are done, are they being paid, and regardless of the answers to these questions, they should maintain a strict policy of fairness and continue to provide a level playing field for all productions that allow their tickets to be sold at the TKTS outlets.  

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