The Stage Ticketing Survey: Top West End tickets increase by £20 in four years
Top-price seats in the West End now cost theatregoers £93.77 on average, up 30% since 2012, The Stage’s annual ticketing survey reveals.
The most expensive seats have increased by £7 since last year alone, when they cost an average £86.78. Since The Stage began records in 2012, the average top-price seat has increased from £72.12.
For the first time since 2012, the cheapest seats have also risen in price.
Having fallen over the past four years, the cheapest ticket at a West End show now costs an average £20.76. This is a 3% increase on 2015, but still below the 2012 level (£21.91).
The most expensive West End ticket remains The Book of Mormon, with its top seats still going for £202.25 – a figure unchanged since last year. This is more than double the price of the most expensive ticket recorded in 2012 for Billy Elliot, at £97.50.
This year, No Man’s Land was the most expensive play, with top seats priced at £150. The rise in top ticket prices this year has been driven by long-running shows, several of which have hiked their prices since 2015.
When The Stage began its survey in 2012, none of the shows monitored sold tickets for more than £100. Now, 19 shows do – up from 14 last year – while seven more are selling tickets for £95 or higher.
Society of London Theatre chief executive Julian Bird said the survey showed London theatres and producers “continue to offer tickets at every price point”. According to SOLT, the average price paid for a West End ticket was £42.99 in 2015. Bird said this demonstrated “the range of prices available”.
The Stage Ticketing Survey 2016
Now in its fifth year, The Stage’s ticketing survey provides an annual snapshot of West End ticket prices, covering the commercial sector as well as not-for-profit and subsided theatres.
The price of the most expensive ticket in the West End rose sharply between 2012 and 2015, but this trend seems to have now stalled, with The Book of Mormon – last year’s most expensive show – keeping its top tickets at £202.25.
While the show’s UK producer Sonia Friedman declined to comment, a spokesman told The Stage that access was “really key to Sonia Friedman Productions”.
He added: “All [our] productions have a very good allocation of tickets at low and accessible prices across the board.”
Although The Book of Mormon ticket prices remain static, other long-running shows have significantly hiked their prices.
Jersey Boys and Les Miserables have both added £30 to their top prices, making these tickets £147 and £127.25 respectively. Elsewhere, Sunny Afternoon and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory have upped their top ticket prices by about £25 each, although Charlie has reduced the price of its cheapest seats.
Only two shows have significantly lowered their top prices: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (£104.35, down from £125) and Stomp (£60, down from £70).
There were also price hikes for cheaper tickets, among them Mamma Mia!, which has nearly doubled the price of its cheapest seats from £17.75 to £27.75.
The most expensive play in the West End in this year’s survey is No Man’s Land, with a top price of £150. It is produced by Playful Productions, which has been behind the most expensive play in our survey for the past four years: The Audience in 2013 (£127), Bring Up the Bodies in 2014 (£115) and American Buffalo in 2015 (£149.50). Playful declined to comment.
While the average top-price ticket for a commercial show is now £103.81, up 5% from last year, top tickets at subsidised and not-for-profit theatres have surged to an average £68.67 – a 20% increase on 2015. This is mostly due to the high prices for top tickets at the Royal Opera House and the Old Vic for Groundhog Day.
Top prices at the National Theatre – which have risen by £30 in the Olivier theatre, from £35 to £65 – have also had a significant impact. A spokeswoman said the NT had introduced new bands at the upper end for certain shows, “to ensure we can continue to make significant numbers of tickets available at our lowest prices”.
While top tickets at the NT’s Lyttelton appear to have risen by the same amount, the theatre told The Stage last year’s figures were recorded on a date when all tickets in the Lyttelton were discounted. Comparing like for like with a normal performance day in 2015, top prices have risen from £50 to £65, while top Dorfman tickets have fallen by £5.
The cheapest seats in the West End could be found at subsidised venues the Royal Opera House and the Donmar Warehouse, which sold tickets for £9 and £10 respectively.
Most expensive tickets in the West End, 2012-16
Top-price tickets for long-running West End shows, 2012-16
We have adopted a consistent methodology for buying tickets every year to compare prices as closely as possible on a like-for-like basis.
To define a West End show, we considered all theatres with full membership of the Society of London Theatre.
Prices were taken from the online purchase price for each show. We went to each show’s website and followed links to its official vendor. If more than one vendor was listed, we took the first option (unless another was billed as having no fees). All ticket prices include booking or administration fees.
Prices quoted are for evening performances on September 17, 2016. If a venue was in preview or was sold out, we moved on to the next available non-preview Saturday evening show.
Prices quoted are for a single ticket. Seats not available to book online were not included. Standing tickets were also excluded for consistency. This extended to Shakespeare’s Globe, where standing tickets were available for all performances priced at £5.
When different delivery options were available, we always chose to collect at the box office.
When recording top-price tickets, we opted where possible for the most expensive ticket without added extras, such as VIP lounge access, drinks or snacks. In three cases, certain top-price seats were only available to purchase alongside such incentives: Groundhog Day at the Old Vic, The Naked Magicians at Trafalgar Studios, and Jersey Boys at the Piccadilly Theatre.
When The Stage began its ticketing survey, hidden fees – not quoted alongside ticket prices at the start of the booking process – were considerably more common in the West End. In 2012, 30 venues charged hidden fees, and we have continued to monitor them for the past five years. This year, only four shows charged extra fees that were not quoted upfront: Jersey Boys, The Woman in Black and Sunny Afternoon – all via ATG Tickets – as well as The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.