Broadway Marketing Calendar - Month By Month
Trends in Broadway ticket sales, marketing, and attendance throughout the year
Broadway is a dynamic place. Broadway shows open and close, buzz flares up and then dies down, audiences come and go, and sales rise and fall. Everything is always changing on Broadway, and here's our summary of the Broadway Season marketing and sales schedule - its what you can expect from month to month on the Great White Way.
Although the first show of the Broadway season sometimes opens in the summer, the Broadway season proper begins in September. With the summer tourist season over, sales don't usually start out too strong, but that soon changes as new Broadway plays and musicals begin previews and a couple shows even have their official Broadway openings. The Broadway marketing campaigns get going this month, and special annual events like the "Broadway on Broadway" concert in Times Square and the "Broadway Flea Market" in Shubert Alley generate excitement for the new season.
A big month for Broadway openings, October sees a boost in sales due to interest in all the brand new shows. Broadway doesn't see as much tourist traffic this time of year, but the local New York theater fans come out in big numbers to check out the new plays and musicals at a time when not so many tourists are about and tickets are less competitive
More new Broadway openings, lots of buzz around town about what's hot and what's not, and continued audience interest. Broadway sees a huge sales spike towards the end of the month during the Thanksgiving holiday.
The final month of the year usually sees a couple more Broadway openings before "winter break" (i.e. the period of about two months in which virtually no new shows open). The last couple weeks of December, particularly Christmas week and into New Year's, always see huge sales numbers, in fact the biggest sales number of the year at the Broadway box office.
The biggest shows can often be sold out 100% of the time
Broadway ticket sales tumble immediately after the New Year's holiday as the quietest month on Broadway commences. The tourists have all gone home and locals don't have any money to spend on high-priced Broadway tickets after the holidays have drained their pocketbooks. Though sales for all Broadway shows are usually pretty low at this point, more "grown-up" shows and serious plays sometimes do comparatively better business around this time than the glitzy extravaganzas and Disney family shows that dominate at other times of the year.
Like January, February is a quiet month on Broadway as a result of the dreaded "winter doldrums". Broadway ticket sales do sometimes start showing little signs of life here, though, especially over President's Day weekend.
This is when the Broadway machine gets running again, with more aggressive marketing of shows and a gradual upward trend in ticket sales. After a period of little or no new Broadway musicals and plays opening during the winter months, March sees several new Broadway shows starting previews and opening.
Many new Broadway shows are opening in April and Broadway tourism starts picking up. Broadway ticket sales continue to climb, getting big spikes from Spring Breakers, tourists visiting for Easter weekend, and even New Yorkers looking for a nice holiday activity. For obvious reasons, kids and family-oriented Broadway shows (certainly anything by Disney) tend to do very well around this time.
The last few new shows of the Broadway season usually open during this month in order to make it in time to be eligible for Tony Award nominations. The Tony nominations are announced mid-month and almost always create significant added interest at the Broadway box office for the nominated shows. The flip side of that is that struggling Broadway shows that didn't manage to snag a nomination sometimes announce their closings. Though ticket sales are typically pretty good during May, there is always the danger that lovely spring weather can result in people enjoying the outdoors for free rather than paying to sit in a darkened theater.
June can be a tumultuous time on Broadway. Summer tourism is good for Broadway box office, but a lot of locals take off for the summer, so they aren't spending as much time at the theater. What most assuredly does cause a jump in Broadway ticket sales, though, is the Tony Awards, which are usually held around the second week of the month. The Tony Awards ceremony, aired live on broadcast TV, acts as one giant TV commercial for Broadway, meaning that several shows experience a surge after the telecast. The downside is that struggling shows that failed to win an award often announce closing afterwards.
With the Tony awards come and gone, and no new shows to see (except for the occasional summer opening or limited engagement), July can be a staid month on Broadway. Buzz is low, and sales are downright abysmal over the 4th of July weekend. Independence Day week is a real oddity on Broadway - it's pretty much the only holiday during the entire year where Broadway ticket sales drop rather than rise. Fortunately, sales usually bounce back after the holiday.
Sales are solid through most of August, and then they start to dip towards the end of the month as tourists go home and families prepare for the new school year. In a bid to boost ticket sales around this time, the Broadway League releases the "Season of Savings" discounts for both existing Broadway shows and for those soon to open.