Hamilton tries new sales method to battle bots and scalpers

Hamilton, a hit musical about the life and death of the United States' first treasury secretary, is the most expensive ticket on Broadway - the best seats in the house cost more than $1,160.
Hamilton, a hit musical about the life and death of the United States' first treasury secretary, is the most expensive ticket on Broadway - the best seats in the house cost more than $1,160.PHOTO: NYTIMES

NEW YORK • Hamilton, the hit musical that has struggled to combat profiteering by scalpers, is trying a new tack with its next block of Broadway tickets: a technology from Ticketmaster that scrutinises the purchase histories of potential ticket-buyers in an effort to eliminate bots and high-volume resellers.

The show is the third on Broadway to embrace the technology, Verified Fan, following Harry Potter And The Cursed Child, which opens on Broadway next spring, and Springsteen On Broadway, Bruce Springsteen's one-man show, which opens on Broadway this autumn.

Hamilton implemented the technology on Tuesday morning, giving potential buyers until 6pm on Friday to seek verification from Ticketmaster to qualify for an early opportunity to purchase seats at performances between March 6 and Aug 19 next year. Once verified, fans will be allowed to buy tickets starting next Monday. The general public can buy a day later.

"This is a new effort to put tickets into the hands of theatregoers at regular prices," said Jeffrey Seller, lead producer of Hamilton.

"We'll always be fighting the resellers because their incentive to keep trying is so powerful. Are we making progress? Yes. But is it foolproof? Not at all."

Hamilton's use of Verified Fan, which allows verified buyers exclusive access to a one-day pre-sale, is more limited than that of the Springsteen show and the Potter play, each of which appears to be planning to use Verified Fan for all individual sales.

Hamilton, about the life and death of the United States' first treasury secretary, is the most expensive ticket on Broadway - the best seats in the house cost US$849 (S$1,161), if purchased from the show, and the average price paid last week was US$282.65. But many people pay more buying tickets from resellers - for example, prices for the best seats at this Saturday night's show are being offered for up to US$1,500 via Ticketmaster (yes, Ticketmaster sells and resells tickets) and US$3,000 on StubHub. Of course, some people get lucky and win the show's daily digital lottery - those seats are US$10.

The fan base for Hamilton remains strong two years after the show opened. It is grossing more than US$3 million a week on Broadway - more than three times as much as most other plays and musicals. And a phone app introduced last Friday, which is intended to allow the show to communicate more directly with its fans, was downloaded more than 500,000 times in its first 72 hours.

Among the app's uses: It will allow those seeking last-minute discounted tickets to enter the digital lotteries in each city where the show is running.

NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 17, 2017, with the headline 'Hamilton tries new sales method to battle bots and scalpers'. Print Edition | Subscribe