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Sphere sold $55.2M in U2, F1 tickets in 1st full quarter

Updated February 5, 2024 - 11:06 am

The Sphere generated $55.2 million in revenue from its U2 concerts and Formula One tie-in and sells roughly $1 million a day in tickets for its Sphere Experience program that includes a showing of “Postcard from Earth,” the company reported Monday.

In a fiscal second-quarter earnings call, Sphere Entertainment Co. Executive Chairman and CEO James Dolan said the New York-based company continues to make efforts toward building more Spheres around the world, but didn’t specifically say where. He also hinted that there may be future late-night electronic dance music performances at the Las Vegas Sphere in the future.

For now, the Sphere in Las Vegas, which debuted with performances by U2 in late September, is the only venue of its kind.

“Sphere is a next-generation medium intended to disrupt the traditional venue model,” Dolan said in a conference call with analysts Monday. “With positive adjusted operating income at the Sphere segment in our first full quarter of operations in Las Vegas, our early results are beginning to prove that thesis, and we remain confident in the global opportunities ahead.”

The company reported its Sphere segment had revenue of $167.8 million, which included $55.2 million for concert and Formula One, $92.9 million for 191 Sphere Experience-“Postcard from Earth” showings that began Oct. 6 and $17.5 million in exosphere advertising and luxury box suite licensing.

Demand proved far more lucrative than Sphere officials had expected for its U2 residency. They initially envisioned 20 U2 performances, but that has expanded to 40, with the last shows planned in March.

Executives said they’re seeing the same kind of demand for two upcoming residencies, Phish, which opens April 18, and Dead & Company, which is scheduled to begin May 16. Dead & Company includes performers from the original Grateful Dead American rock band.

Shows already added

Dead & Company, whose ticket presales began Monday, already has added six shows bringing the total to 20.

Dolan said he expects high demand for live performances to continue and show add-ons should be expected.

Dolan said with the Phish and Dead & Company residencies in place, the 2024 calendar year is set. He said he doesn’t expect Sphere to become a tour-stop venue because it takes too much effort to design the visual effects of a concert event to justify one or two nights on a tour stop. But he added that an electronic dance music show may be in the works.

“The Sphere is designed and strategized to run multiple events on a day, not just the same event multiple times, but different events,” Dolan said in response to an analyst’s question.

“And we do want to have a concert and a Sphere Experience on the same day,” he said. “We think actually that will be quite lucrative. But there are other things, too, that we can, that we’re looking at, including we’re looking at a late-night EDM show, to see how far we can stretch this thing. We’ve talked about it. I don’t know if we’re going to get to three different kinds of events in a day, but we definitely do two. And a big part of the old venue model is what they call the load-in and the load-out, and how much time that took. Now, there basically is no load-in and load-out with the Sphere.”

Advertising and brand launches on the exosphere has become an important revenue source and Dolan said several are planned this week in connection with the Super Bowl.

He said social media is a big part of ads and brand launches because people in Las Vegas seeing the display post videos and photos that extend the advertising message.

Next Sphere

Dolan had no specifics about where the next Sphere would be built, noting during the call that a franchise model would be developed and that the cost and time to build a venue would be less as company officials got more experience from building in Las Vegas.

The $2.3 billion Sphere took more than five years to build, which was lengthened, in part, by supply chain issues resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

While Dolan made no predictions about where the next Sphere would be built, there have been media reports indicating South Korea and Dubai are in the mix for a venue.

The company reported a non-cash impairment charge of $116.5 million in connection with the company’s November decision to no longer pursue the development of a Sphere in London.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan recommended against building a Sphere venue in the neighborhood that hosted the 2012 Olympic Games. Sphere withdrew the application and the area where it was to be built is now targeted for low-income housing.

Neighbors around the site had complained about the additional traffic and “light pollution” the venue would bring to the area.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on X.

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