MSG’s Las Vegas Sphere has become a phenomenon in the music industry, as fans continue to speculate which artists will perform at the coveted venue next. However, the venue took a significant operating loss in its first quarter.
According to Sphere Entertainment Co., the venue lost $193.9 million on revenue of $167.8 million for its quarter ending on December 31, 2023. Sphere Entertainment reported that nearly half of the venue’s revenue, which grossed $92.9 million, came from “The Sphere Experience,” which included a tour of the venue and a viewing of the film “Postcard From Earth” for 91 performances. Additionally, the Sphere brought-in $55.2 million from concerts, as U2 debuted their “U2: UV Achtung Baby” residency at the space in September.
The Sphere was hit with a $116.5 million non-cash impairment charge after a bid to launch a second Sphere in London failed late last year, accounting for most of the venue’s losses. London Mayor Sadiq Khan directed the London Legacy Development Corporation to refuse a planning application for MSG Sphere London, noting that it would have caused “unacceptable harm to hundreds of residents,” with various concerns about the venue’s height and appearance in the city. After hearing of his opposition, Sphere developers pulled-out of the offer.
Although the Secretary of State Michael Gove could have overrode Khan’s decision, Sphere CEO James Dolan told The Evening Standard the application was “subject to a completely politically motivated move by the mayor’s office,” noting, “we can’t keep banging our heads against the wall in London while there are other cities that want us.”
Despite the venue’s losses, Sphere had an adjusted operating gain of $14.1 million. U2 has continued its multi-month run at the Sphere, selling out every show to-date. After extending the run twice, U2 will wrap-up the residency with its 40th show next month. Already, more acts have been booked for the 2024 calendar, including Phish’s four-night residency in April and Dead & Company’s 18-date run.
Additionally, the Sphere announced its launch into the world of sports with a UFC match in September, with UFC President Dana White promising “the greatest live combat sports show anybody has ever seen.” The Sphere will also likely hold the NHL Draft.
There has been much anticipation of which artist will perform at the Sphere next, with circulating rumors of performances from popstar Harry Styles. While Dolan didn’t reveal any more residencies at this time, Billboard reported he noted in an earnings call that “pretty much our calendar is full for this calendar year.”
“Sphere is a next-generation medium intended to disrupt the traditional venue model,” Dolan said in a press release. “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.”