Costs may outweigh benefits

The team-up of Internet-based discount outlet Groupon and ticketing giant Ticketmaster prompts the question: Will Broadway shows start turning up on Groupon more frequently now?

The idea was hot with producers and marketers last fall, just as the site came to prominence. But it’s since become clear to many in the industry that, in general, it’s not a revenue model that will work over an extended period of time.

Productions including “Chicago,” “American Idiot” and “La Cage aux Folles” have given Groupon a try, with limited success.

Broadway marketing agency SpotCo, which handled the Groupon offers for “Chicago” and “La Cage,” found that, given the extreme price sensitivity of the users, the lower the pricetag, the better.

Last fall SpotCo used Groupon to offer a $65 deal on orchestra seats to “Chicago,” which sold just over 500 tickets. Then the company went back with a more focused deal on specific perfs that needed filled at “La Cage,” with pricetags of about $40 for rear mezzanine seats and $15 for rear balcony. That one sold more than 1,500 tickets.

A number of industry types see the value of giving Groupon a try for such targeted, strategic sales, particularly for tickets that can be had for the low price required to appeal to site users.

Plus, there’s always the chance Groupon will bring in somebody who likes Broadway enough to return.

“What’s good about it is you often are reaching a new consumer to Broadway,” says SpotCo’s Sara Fitzpatrick. “Maybe next time they’ll come back as full-price buyer.”

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