Boxoffice Insider: Grand Ole Opry House Continues The Tradition & Powers On Through The Year

The Grand Ole Opry
Chris Hollo
– The Grand Ole Opry
kicked off its month-long 95th anniversary celebration on Oct. 3 with performances by Opry members Dierks Bentley, Terri Clark, Vince Gill, and Lorrie Morgan.
The Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville has been the home of the weekly Grand Ole Opry radio broadcast since 1974 when the show moved there from the Ryman Auditorium, the “mother church” of country music and former home of the radio show for over 30 years. The Grand Ole Opry has aired weekly from the 4,400-seat venue continuously during the past 46 years, except for a brief period in 2010 when a Nashville flood forced the event into temporary venues while the Opry House was repaired.
This year, the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic also forced a temporary change – from Opry artists performing live for an audience to an empty house and a virtual format. On March 21, just days after the live entertainment industry was shut down due to the novel coronavirus, the Grand Ole Opry aired its 4,916th consecutive show with Brad Paisley, Vince Gill and Marty Stuart playing to an empty theater and streamed live to a virtual audience.
Live streaming soon became the safe way for artists to get their music to fans which prompted Pollstar to create its weekly Livestream chart that debuted in the May 18 issue, eight weeks after that Opry performance in an empty theater. Streamed on The Circle network and other social platforms, the Opry Live event has appeared on every Livestream chart since its inception, earning the No. 5 ranking on its debut with a lineup featuring Trace Adkins, Dustin Lynch, Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani.
In the 24 issues since that original chart was published, Circle’s Opry Live has ranked in the Top 10 every week. In 20 issues it landed among the Top 5, and eight times it was No. 1. Country superstars Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood had the most views of any of the Opry stars with a count of 2,296,055 for their streamed Sept. 5 performance. It ran in the Sept. 14 issue with the No. 1 ranking.
The Grand Ole Opry House welcomed a limited number of fans back inside with socially distanced seating beginning with the Oct. 3 broadcast. That Saturday stream featured Dierks Bentley, Terri Clark, Vince Gill and Lorrie Morgan and scored a viewership of 1,234,270, the fourth-highest count since the March shutdown.
Looking back to previous years before 2020 and the devastating effects of COVID-19, the Grand Ole Opry House has had a long history as a concert venue. Headlining artists across many genres have appeared at the venue along with other live events such as the “Radio City Christmas Spectacular,” staged at the Opry House for 13 years (2002-14).
Historically the top ticket mover at the venue, according to Pollstar’s Boxoffice archives, is Nashville’s own Amy Grant who has the highest sold-ticket count for one engagement, a three-show run Dec. 19-21, 1995 with an overall attendance of 13,620. The gross of $680,270, valued at $1.2 million today, is also the highest for a multiple-night concert event. The highest-grossing single night concert is a New Year’s Eve show in 2018 featuring the late John Prine with $625,721 in sales from 4,257 tickets.
Comedian and Oscar-winning actor, the late Robin Williams, has the top attendance for a single show, based on reported data. His performance, promoted by Beaver Productions, produced a sold-ticket count of 4,471 on July 7, 2002. The best-attended country concert in the archives is a Feb. 11, 1992 performance headlined by Alan Jackson with Brooks & Dunn on the bill. The show drew a sellout crowd of 4,466.