Broadway Across America, the presenter and producer that sends Broadway tours out to 44 markets, has amassed more than 400,000 in season subscribers — a number that muscles into the realm of sports leagues, putting it higher than the most recent figures available for the NBA.
The comparison with the NBA, which in 2015-16 reported the total number of season ticket holders at about 300,000, isn’t a perfect one, in that there are 82 games in a basketball season (many of which are televised), and only four to eight shows in Broadway Across America’s touring Broadway seasons. Still, the 2017-18 nationwide subscriber tally — 406,000, as of late August — can nonetheless be read as a sign of robust national interest in live theater, with those season subscribers helping to ensure a market for the national tours that yield significant revenue for Broadway producers. Big titles hitting the road this season include “Aladdin,” “The King and I” and, of course, “Hamilton.”
“Hamilton” has been a noted driver in season subscription sales across the country, and in 2017-18 the megahit is playing in BAA seasons at eight venues. But the company’s leadership noted that nationwide subscriptions have been consistently on the rise (climbing by 5% or more, year-to-year) each season since 2009-10, perhaps spurred by the advent of “American Idol,” “Glee,” “High School Musical” and other pop-culture phenoms that helped return live performance to the zeitgeist.
In the 40-plus markets in which BAA presents Broadway touring seasons, season subscribers — who pay about $400 a year for a season ticket, depending on the number of shows on an individual market’s slate — essentially serve as a guaranteed cushion of audiences for touring fare. This season’s 406,000 subscribers will fill theaters to an average of 40% of capacity, before single ticket sales.
Broadway Across America is one arm of the John Gore Organization, which also owns, among other companies, Broadway.com, the online news site and ticketing outlet, and the Broadway Channel. As part of its effort to bolster the pipeline of Broadway shows that tour, the Gore Organization also has investments in a string of current and upcoming Broadway titles including last season’s “Dear Evan Hansen” and “Hello, Dolly!” and the coming season’s “Mean Girls,” “Escape to Margaritaville” and “The Band’s Visit.”