Who came to Broadway this year?

It seems like just yesterday we posted The Broadway League’s summary of “Who Came To Broadway” in the 2007-2008 season.

Well, it’s that time again!

Just in time for the holidays, it’s the Demographics of the Broadway Audience Report for 2008-2009!  As I did last year, I’ll give you the Cliff’s Notes version of the document here, but try and get your hands on a copy of the complete report if you can. Because despite what we all thought in high school, the Cliff’s Notes version ain’t as educational as the real thing.




  • In the 2008-2009 season, approximately 63% of all Broadway tickets were purchased by tourists.
  • International visitors accounted for 21% of all Broadway admissions, the highest proportion in recorded history.
  • Sixty-six percent of the audiences were female.  This reflects the trend of the past few decades.
  • The average age of the Broadway theatregoer was 42.2 years.
  • The percentage of theatregoers under age 18 dropped slightly from the past few years; however, those aged 25-34 accounted for 16% of all tickets sold, a higher percentage than it has been since the 1999-2000 season.
  • Seventy-four percent of all tickets were purchased by Caucasian theatregoers.  Although still mostly homogeneous, audiences have become slightly more diverse in the past decade.
  • Broadway theatregoers were a very well-educated group.  Of theatregoers over 25 years old, 73% had completed college and 36% had earned a graduate degree.
  • Broadway theatregoers were also quite affluent compared to the general United States population, reporting an annual household income of $195,700.

Ticket Purchasing Habits

  • The average Broadway theatregoer reported attending 4.2 shows in the previous 12 months.  The group of devoted fans who attended 15 or more performances comprised only 5% of the audience, but accounted for 31% of all tickets sold (3.7 million admissions).
  • Playgoers tended to be more frequent theatregoers than musical attendees.  The typical straight play attendee saw eight shows in the past year; the musical attendee, four.
  • The Internet was by far the most popular way to buy Broadway tickets.  In fact, the reported use of the Internet to purchase tickets has grown from 7% in the 1999-2000 season to 40% this season.
  • In the 2008-2009 season, 34% of theatregoers bought their tickets more than one month prior to the show, compared to 39% the previous season, but up from 32% the three prior seasons.
  • More than half the time, women were the ones who decided to attend the show.  Since 66% of all audiences were female, women were the “decision makers” 70% of the time.
  • Forty-seven percent of theatregoers at musicals said that personal recommendation was the most influential factor in deciding to attend the show.  On the other hand, critics’ reviews were the most influential factor for play audiences, cited by one-third of respondents.
  • Twenty percent of respondents overall cited some kind of critical review as a deciding factor, down from 27% in the 2007-2008 season.  Reviews were much more important to playgoers than to musical attendees.
  • Overall, the most effective types of advertising were reported to be the Internet (7.5%), television (6.2%) and print (5.2%).  The New York Times was still the most common advertising source recognized by theatregoers; however, it was less frequently cited this season, compared to last season.
  • Approximately three quarters of the Broadway audience said that some kind of incentive (discounts, freebies, add-ons) would encourage them to attend shows more often.

Interesting stuff as always, right?

Just remember.  Data is like a pile of bricks.  It can be the foundation of something great, but only if you do something with it.

  • Andi Cohen says:

    To tack on to this topic, the Clyde Fitch Report wrote this article in response to the drop in numbers of the African-American audience member: http://www.clydefitchreport.com/?p=5244
    Personally, I started thinking about whether or not anyone chose to do a show that specifically targeted that demographic in the past year, and if not – why not? Time and again we’ve been shown that if that audience is targeted, they will show up at the box office. (Thinking of Bring in Da Noise… and the Raisin in the Sun revival with Sean Combs)

  • Jackie says:

    As someone who brings New York public school students to the theater (not your typical Broadway Audience, as the Broadway League report shows) I have found that once young people have seen a show they are hooked, and that many of them become part of the ticket purchasing audience. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that the slight increase in theater-going of 25-34 year olds was because they were introduced to the theater as young people, some by organizations like ours. However, when we poll our students before attending the theater about who they think goes to the theater, their response is “Wealthy White People.” What’s troubling here is that they’re often right. I feel that it’s the responsibility and in the self interest of every theater producer, marketer, and enthusiast to reach out to a younger, more diverse audience. Broadway is a powerful source of inspiration for all theater-goers, and the more we can share the experience, the richer the theater community and the theater will be.

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