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"People just want to buy theater tickets in an easy, convenient way," Baer says. "The ticketing industry hasn't evolved particularly in the last 50 years."
The app comes at a time when half of Broadway tickets are purchased within a week of the performance, making it harder for theaters to plan ahead. A mobile ticketing application is the logical outgrowth of an increasing digital trend in which some 47 percent of people buy their tickets online.
This week, the app had a pair of tickets in the mezzanine for "First Date" for $118, a savings of $56, and a pair in the side orchestra for "Newsies" at $73 each, or $158 off the regular price. Tickets were also available for off-Broadway offerings like "Blue Man Group," `'The Radio City Christmas Spectacular" and "Avenue Q."
Baer and Fenty built TodayTix from an oversubscribed initial round of financing that raised $500,000. They released a test app in September and already have seen it used 50,000 times so far, with repeat customers representing a quarter of users. So far, TodayTix is available only on the iPhone, but there are plans to have it on other mobile platforms soon.
The pair turned for help to multiple Tony Award-winning theater producer and academic Elizabeth Williams, who serves as a TodayTix partner and theatrical adviser. Williams, who is currently producing "Waiting for Godot" and "No Man's Land," was excited by the app's promise.
"Any new ideas that come into the space that will provide shows a way to market their tickets is of interest to me," she says. "We'll be able to reach audiences potentially who we haven't been able to reach before. I'm very hopeful that this can make a big difference to us."
Williams, a longtime BlackBerry user, will get to use the new app on her own after Christmas. That's when Santa -- in reality, her son -- gets her an iPhone.
© 2014 Associated Press under contract with YellowBrix. All rights reserved.