Super Bowl XLVIII Negatively Impacts Broadway Ticket Sales, Despite Positive Expectations

superbowl 48 trophyOn Sunday, February 2, 2014, the Seattle Seahawks crushed the Denver Broncos, 43-8, winning the National Football League championship at the Super Bowl XLVIII. The game was held just over the Hudson River from New York City at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

As it turns out, the Broncos were not the only ones who could have used a better defense.  Though Broadway shows across the board adjusted performance schedules and made promotional efforts to engage the influx of sports fans flocking to the city, theatre ticket sales were at a disappointing low, with weekly box office grosses dropping $2.4 million and with 15,000 fewer tickets sold compared to the previous 7-day period.

Total ticket sales were only $16,714,694 in the week leading up to the Super Bowl, though they reached $19,122,428 in the preceding week.  The only shows to reach full audience capacity were The Book of Mormon and the double-bill Mark Rylance-led Shakespeare productions of Twelfth Night and Richard III.  Even long-running hits such as The Lion King saw a big drop in sales, decreasing 10 percent since the week before.  Although the total weekly gross for all productions was comparable to the total gross in Super Bowl week last year, there are presently four more shows running than this time last year.

In recent history, Broadway producers have seen non-weather related ticket sales slumps, the most recent during the Republican National Convention in 2004, when ticket sales dropped 22%. This time the slump was so severe, that the New York City Mayor may rethink efforts to bring other events to the area, like the Olympics, the World Cup or even the Stanley Cup. It may increase hotel receipts, but do little for the rest of the NYC economy.

superbowl-tobaggan-run

In honor of the football event, New York City and the Super Bowl Host Committee joined forces to carry out an unprecedented shutdown of 13 blocks in Midtown Manhattan.  As a result, traffic was restricted in the heart of Times Square on Broadway between 34th Street and 47th Street for the four days leading up to the game.  The officially dubbed “Super Bowl Boulevard” hosted a slew of events ranging from a toboggan run to an outdoor stage featuring performances by, among others, the Broadway casts of Rock of Ages and Jersey Boys.  Other shows – including Rocky, Pippin, Motown, Chicago, Mamma Mia! and Newsies – gave special performances in nearby Bryant Park.  Still, it appears the excitement of the game overpowered the convenience of the theatre district welcoming the flood of visitors with open arms. The “Super Bowl Boulevard” festivities felt crushed in the small space on Broadway, especially given that the Javits Center, on the West Side of Manhattan was the original location earmarked , but another event grabbed the booking.

Broadway producers, anticipating the conflict, made significant efforts to take advantage of the tourist traffic.  Broadway Week, an annual 2-for-1 ticket promotion, happened to coincide with the shutdowns, and every running production (with the exception of the confident hit The Book of Mormon) participated in the discount program – most likely aiming to attract Super Bowl theatregoers.  Furthermore, the Broadway League (calling themselves “the theatrical equivalent of the NFL”) released a press statement welcoming Super Bowl XLVIII to Times Square, providing a user-friendly map for pedestrians to navigate their way to the theatres, and announcing alternate curtain times to accommodate football aficionados.

Rock of Ages

One show, Rock of Ages, made multiple efforts to attract football fans.  The 1980s rock jukebox musical has traditionally done very well with the adult male demographic, which is unusual for Broadway musicals.  It therefore makes sense that they would take this opportunity to gain added exposure among sports fans.  In addition to performing a half hour set onstage at Super Bowl Boulevard on Thursday afternoon prior to the game, the cast made the journey to MetLife Stadium on game day, performing two sets outside the gates prior to kickoff.  In an even greater feat, the producers convinced three NFL stars to join the cast onstage at Broadway’s Helen Hayes Theatre, playing bartenders in four brief scenes for a temporary stint.  However, Rock of Ages was no exception in terms of poor box office performance; their gross was $60,000 less than the previous week.

Overall, despite positive expectations that the event might help rally the crowds to Broadway, the performance week was disappointingly low.  Presumably, the grosses might have been even worse had it not been for the Broadway League’s efforts to woo the scant few Super Bowl fans that actually did go to a show.  It is likely that the Super Bowl fans also booked all the hotel rooms in New York City, which meant that the normal tourists didn’t have anywhere to stay. Super Bowl Boulevard also served to distract the remaining tourists from going to the theatre, merely adding to the multitude of entertainment options available in Times Square.  Still, some of these marketing efforts may prove fruitful in the long run, having possibly increased national awareness of the current Broadway slate.

Michael Strahan Puts Call Out For Red Carpet Audience Members For Super Bowl XLVIII

super-bowl-red-carpetThis Sunday night, the 2014 Fox Sports Super Bowl XLVIII red carpet will be hosted by Charissa Thompson and Michael Strahan at the MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ and will take place on Sunday, February 2, 2014. Fox Sports are looking for fifty red carpet insiders to be part of the pregame show and hang out next to the red carpet while they interview celebrities.

The pregame is standing-room-only, but the fans are able to stand on the other side of the velvet rope at the red carpet for the entire pregame show, which will be for at least four hours.

Just to be clear, Fox Sports producers want everyone to know that tickets to the Super Bowl will not be supplied to the guests by Fox Sports or any of its affiliates. Guests will not be provided with any heat, cover from the elements, chairs, refreshments, or bathrooms. Guests will also have to make their own arrangements to get to the MetLife stadium, which might be a major hassle given that the Super Bowl is playing at the stadium and they will not be part of it. Guests must leave directly after the red carpet pregame is over. Guests should not approach Charissa Thompson or Michael Strahan for autographs or to sign any paraphernalia. Guests will also not be allowed to approach or talk to anyone who is walking on the red carpet. At this point, it is unclear which celebrities will actually walk the red carpet at the Super Bowl, but looking back at Super Bowl XLVII in 2012 it was a mix of TV stars and ex-NFL players. Current NFL players don’t really want to be seen on the red carpet at the game that they might feel that they deserved to be playing in.

Super Bowl fans who want to be part of this show (it really helps that you already have Super Bowl tickets) are welcome to apply at the Fox Sports website.

As of today, they still do not have the required fifty people, but they anticipate that this show will actually become far hotter than the game itself as people realize that stars like the Kardashians, Dorothy Wang, Bethenny Frankel and Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi will be there.

On the network’s broadcast roster are Terry Bradshaw (his 10th Super Bowl assignment as a broadcaster) who will carry the bulk of the four hours. Game broadcasters Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Pam Oliver, and Erin Andrews and rules analyst Mike Pereira will also be part of the pregame.

The TV schedule rundown for this year’s pregame show is:

  • A feature on the New York and New Jersey ties of Hall of Fame coach Vince Lombardi, who was born in Brooklyn, played at Fordham and coached at Army, St. Cecilia’s in New Jersey and with the New York Giants. The piece, produced by PT Navarro, should run in the 4pm hour or early in the 5pm hour. Vin Scully and Archbishop Cardinal Timothy Dolan will appear on camera as part of the piece.
  • Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly will conduct a live sit-down interview with President Barack Obama beginning approximately at 4:30 pm ET. The interview will take place at the White House and go for about 10 minutes or so.
  • Bradshaw has a taped interview with Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Namath, with the pair walking down Broadway in New York City. That will air sometime in the show’s first 90 minutes.
  • An examination of some of the great games in New York/New Jersey history, including the 1958 Championship Game between the Baltimore Colts and New York Giants. This will run in the first hour.
  • Drawing from previous Super Bowl broadcasters, Michael Strahan and Fox Sports Live‘s Charissa Thompson will interview celebrities on a red-carpet outside MetLife Stadium. Its unclear how “Celebrities” is defined, but many TV and sports stars are expected. This is usually the lowest point of the show for ratings, but the inclusion of the Kardashians this year is expected to give it a boost. Janet Jackson is not invited to this year’s red carpet.
  • A tribute to longtime Fox NFL broadcaster Pat Summerall, who passed away in April, will take to the air in the 3 p.m. ET hour. Buck will lead the tribute.
  • Fox Sports 1 analyst Randy Moss traveled to Denver last week to interview Broncos receiver Wes Welker. The interview will run in the third hour.
  • As is tradition for Fox, the network will have an on-air reading of the Declaration of Independence with past and present NFL figures: Pats owner Robert Kraft, Joe Andruzzi, Matt Chatham and members of the Boston Police Department; Chuck Bednarik, London Fletcher, Art Monk, Giants owners John Mara, Steve Tisch with Jets owner Woody Johnson, Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews, Chuck Pagano, Andrew Luck, Raymond Berry, Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas; Art Shell, Tony Gonzalez, JJ Watt, the Watt Family and the Houston Fire Dept., and Adrian Peterson.
  • Fox will address weather issues on-the-day and change programming on-the-fly depending on what kind of news value it has that day and if it has any attacks for Obama or any other left wing socialists following the Obama interview.
  • This will be the second Super Bowl pregame show Richards has produced after getting a last-second call to produce the pregame in 2011, when Fox last had the game. The aim is to produce a mixture of entertainment and information, and for the show to steadily get more football-centric as the hour grows closer to kickoff.