Regarding the Met: There may still be 'cheap' seats at the Met but I believe they are substantially further away (and I would say worse) than even the 4th ring at NYCB...much worse than the 3rd ring.
The Met's a peculiar place. The acoustics in the Family Circle (the uppermost ring) are actually splendid -- better, I think than in the front of the orchestra -- but the action on stage does look like it's taking place in a galaxy far, far away. It's not exactly an immersive theatrical experience, but I've enjoyed opera from up there. I can't imagine sitting there for the ballet, however.
I have no idea what NYCB is thinking. Do they save any money by closing down the top of the house? If not, why not let folks sit there? (I know I'd vastly prefer the front of the third ring to the back or sides of the second. But then I prefer the mid-back of the orchestra to the front, so I my seating preferences may be unusual.) A half-full house is a half-full house no matter how the audience is distributed.
The follow up subscription brochure I got does show pricing by section up through the second ring, but states that "new subscriptions are not currently available in Orchestra E or the 3rd and 4rth rings" and shows no pricing for those sections. Do they perhaps plan on transitioning subscribers
further down into the house so that they can free up the top of the house for sales of much cheaper single tickets? In other words, if you want good
cheap seats you have to take your chances with single ticket purchases -- you can't lock them in with a subscription.
During the recent contract negotiations, the dancers' representatives kept mentioning "the broken subscription model," but didn't say much about how it was broken. I'd love to know what they meant. Perhaps this latest tactic is a way of grappling with whatever the perceived problem is.