Sorry, this turned out to be a lot longer than I intended. . . .
They're opening up a new Cirque du Soleil show at the Kodak Theater in Hollywood and a few of my friends are working for it. They told me recently that if I wanted to see it I should go now because the show is in previews and the tickets prices will be cheaper than when the show officially opens. That should like a good deal to me.
For you guys who are unfamiliar, in live theater it's common to do previews before a show opens in order to work out the kinks a live show is invariably going to have. It's important to do the show in front of a live audience so you know what parts or it are working and what parts aren't. Sometimes set changes and technical things like lighting won't be working quite right during a preview performance. Sometimes the script for a show will get rewritten during previews based on how well it's working for the live audience. Since everybody involved knows what you're getting is a work in progress, tickets for previews are less than they will be when the show officially opens. Once a show opens it's locked and very little will actually change.
Most people have heard about the badly received Spider-Man musical that's running in New York right now. That show caused a lot of controversy because major parts of it weren't working and yet the producers were paying full price for tickets while it was in previews. Cast members were falling off the stage and yet the audience was being charged full price.
The NFL is doing the exact same thing -- they are charging their customers full price to see a show that's still in previews.
When the Chiefs play Tampa next week, it's very likely our starters will only play the first quarter. And after halftime you are watching a bunch of players who are very likely not going to even make the final roster. And the League thinks we should pay full price for this.
That's no way to treat your customers.
Right now Daniel Radcliffe is doing a Broadway show called How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. If the NFL preseason were applied in this case, the paying audience would get to see Radcliffe for the first 30 or 40 minutes of the show. Then his understudy would come in and take over while Radcliffe goes offstage to ride a stationary bike. After the intermission everybody on stage would be a bunch of scrubs who were went home after the first round of auditions. And the producers of the show would think the audience should gladly pay the full price for that experience.
As we've learned during the lockout, the NFL makes about $10 billion a year. The vast majority of league revenue comes from two places: the TV deals with the networks and the licensing deals to sell NFL related products. Yes the individual teams are making some money from ticket sales. But that money is a tiny trickle compared to the Niagra Falls of the TV and licensing contracts.
Would it really hurt a $10 billion a year industry to shave $5 or $10 off ticket prices for preseason games, for them to just be honest with the fans and acknowledge that preseason games and regular season games are not the same? Would it hurt them to give a deal on the two preseason games to their most loyal customers of all, season ticket holders? Hell, shouldn't season ticket holders have the option to NOT have to buy the preseason games if they don't want to?
A friend of mine and his dad have been Chiefs season ticket holders for nearly 30 years. They've been loyal fans and paying customers through both the Frank Ganz and Herm Edwards eras. Haven't they earned being able to say they'd rather not pay $300 - 400 for meaningless games played by the third string?
The NFL recently started scheduling more games against divisional opponents at the end of the season because teams who had already clinched playoff berths were sitting marquee players in meaningless games. They seem to realize regular season games played by third stringers are bad for business.
Shouldn't the same consideration be paid to the fans during the preseason as well?