A recent press release from the COC states that they have (so far) sold 9870 subscriptions for next season with 1368 of those being new subscribers. The renewal rate is apparently 79%. A quick bit of arithmetic suggests that this season there were 10762 (or very close to) subscribers and that therefore 2260 of them did not renew. So new subscribers are lagging drop outs by around 900. We can assume that subscribers who intend to renew have already done so as the deadline for keeping one’s seats was April 30th. There’s still plenty of time to close part of that gap of course but it does suggest a decline in the subscription base that’s consistent with experience everywhere else that uses the subscription model.
The better news is that the introduction of “value” subscriptions seems to have been quite successful. These are subscriptions that don’t guarantee the best seats in the section but are much cheaper than the regular package. 663 of these packages have gone to first timers so pretty much half of the new customers have gone that route. That means only 215 went to renewers (two of those being K and myself!) so the cannibalization of the existing base seems to have been quite minimal. That’s heartening and a bit surprising because the regular subscriber discount for some parts of the house was cut quite sharply. The value packages are only half sold so maybe more newbies will pick them up before the new season in the fall. They are a great deal actually. For example $499 gets you a seat in Ring 3 for six productions. $85 for a Ring 3 seat is a terrific bargain. For the impecunious Ring 5 value packages are only $169 or less than $30/per.
Bottom line, the COC is, with some ingenuity, managing to maintain one of the highest subscription rates around but it’s still losing subscribers like everybody else. There’s a really interesting marketing case in here somewhere.