League executive director Charlotte St. Martin, whose organization represents producers, theatre owners and touring market presenters, told Playbill.com on May 28 that instead of reporting net gross, the League will begin reporting "gross gross" ticket sales of Broadway shows.
Traditionally, net gross figures have reflected the subtraction of fees or commissions from group sales and credit cards; the "gross gross" report will not show such subtractions, and will therefore reflect bigger numbers than in the past.
In addition, rather than "total paid attendance," the report will indicate "total attendance," which will reflect bodies in seats, including thousands of complimentary seats that are given each season to Tony Award voters, industry professionals and media.
St. Martin agreed that some in the media would view the change as the League's effort to inflate numbers in order to market greater financial success of Broadway shows, but she said that was not the goal of the change in reporting.
The change was to make the reporting more in line with how Hollywood producers and others in the entertainment industry report grosses, she said. Grosses from Broadway national touring companies had already been reporting "gross gross" for years. Also offered starting with the June 1 gross report will be "gross gross potential," "percentage of gross gross potential achieved" and "range of ticket price" (rather than merely top ticket price).
"Average paid admission" will continue to be reported, offering a glimpse of the paid top ticket price (if $120 is the standard top price, and average paid ticket is reflected as $53, it's an instant indication that many tickets were sold at a discount, and some observers routinely draw conclusions about the health or legs of a show this way).
The change of reporting comes after a six-month League committee exploration of the pros and cons of reporting grosses.
In the end, St. Martin said, it was unanimous that grosses should continue to be reported.
For their records, the League has also gone back to the start of the 2008-09 slate and tabulated "gross gross" of the past season, even though net gross was the gross of record (presumably so that when 2009-10 "gross gross" is announced, it can be compared to the 2008-09 season's "gross gross").
Week One of the new Broadway season is May 25-31. Broadway does not operate on a calendar year, but on a May-to-May schedule.