According to Theatre Facts 2010, the annual research snapshot released by the TCG lobbying and support organization, subscription income is dropping at American theaters at an alarming rate. Between 2006 and 2010, the report (released Monday) says, national subscription income dropped by an eye-catching 15.1%. Some 14% fewer subscripion tickets were sold and the closely watched subscriber base dropped by 15%.Are you really surprised, though? Do you subscribe to anyone's season? When you look at the offerings for your local regional, or even the NYC nonprofits, do you see any justification to fork over upwards of $200 up front for a ticket to four or five shows you're not sure about? (More likely, one or two you're interested in and the rest... eh.)
Yes, your parents and grandparents in the suburbs might still like planning their social calendar and commuting plans around a monthly theatre visit. But the rest of us might prefer to, oh, I don't know, buy tickets only when we want to see something?
Interestingly, single-ticket income rose modestly during each of the years in the study. And between 2006 and 2010, the number of single-ticket buyers rose by 3%.So think it over, Managing Directors of America. Yes, you're spoiled by years of up-front financing from those subscription renewals. But how can you retool the business model for the 21st century?