Who sees Broadway shows on the road anyway?

The annual Broadway League report that details the demographics and habits of the audience of Broadway shows around the country was released last week.

And, I’ve got the skinny.

Audiences at over twenty theaters from LA to Boston and several in between were asked a bunch of questions, and then the data was crunched and spit out for us to analyze, and use to our advantage as we develop and market product in the future.

And if we don’t use it, then it’s totally WITHOUT value.  Information that isn’t used, is like an unloaded weapon in the middle of a war; it makes you looks like you know what you’re doing, but at the first sign of trouble, you’re dead meat.

Now that I’ve shot off that depressing simile, here are the highlights from the Executive Summary of the report.

Ready?

  • In the 2009-2010 season, there were nearly 16 million attendances to Broadway touring shows across North America.
  • Seventy-two percent of attendees were female.
  • The average age of the Touring Broadway theatregoer was 53.8 years old.
  • The vast majority of theatregoers were Caucasian.
  • Seventy-four percent of the audience held a college degree and 31% held a graduate degree.
  • Forty-six percent of national theatregoers reported an annual household income of more than $100,000, compared to only 20% of Americans overall.
  • Thirty-six percent of respondents were subscribers to the “Broadway Series” at their local venue.
  • On average, Touring Broadway attendees saw 4.4 shows per year.
  • Women continued to be more likely than men to make the decision to purchase tickets to the show.
  • Nearly two-thirds of audiences looked to the theatre’s website to find information about the show.
  • Other than being included in the subscription, personal recommendation was the most influential source for show selection.
  • The Tony Awards® were also reported to be more influential this season than in previous seasons. Eighteen percent of respondents said that Tony Awards® or nominations were a reason they attended the show, compared to 14% in the 2007-2008 and 8% in the 2005-2006 season. Furthermore, 8% responded that seeing a scene of the show on the Tony® telecast encouraged them to attend the show, compared to 4% in previous years.
  • Advertising was less influential than it had been in the past, but noted forms were print ads, television commercials, and internet ads.
  • Thirty-five percent of Touring Broadway theatregoers used the Internet to purchase their tickets, up from 26% in the 2008-2009 season.
  • Advance sales to single-ticket buyers has increased in comparison to the past several years.
  • Most Touring Broadway theatregoers attended in small groups of family or friends.
  • Sixty-two percent of the audience said that some kind of incentive (discounts for restaurants, parking and transportation, free merchandise, backstage tours, or complete packages) would encourage them to attend theatre more frequently.
  • Facebook was the most widely used social networking site.
  • The vast majority of Touring Broadway theatregoers arrived at the venue by personal car.
  • Besides theatre, moviegoing was by far the most popular leisure activity.
  • Twenty-seven percent of respondents said they made a visit to New York City in the past year.
  • Seventy-one percent of respondents said that different performance times would not make a difference in encouraging them to attend Touring Broadway more frequently.
  • Sixty-nine percent of respondents said they would prefer to receive theatre information electronically, rather than via postal mail.

The complete report is over 60 pages and can be ordered here.

 

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Comments
  • Amyleigh1982 says:

    I’m curious to know if the average age of the theatergoer has changed over the last few years. Only 35% bought tickets online?? I guess that’s one of the benefits to housing tours – instead of hanging out in the lobby, go to the box office and buy a whole season package! Why not? It’s right there. And I suppose more better Tony’s = more butts in the seats. Who can we knock out with a drop this year?
    Hmm…compare this survey with the Broadway one posted a while ago.

  • Ed from Connecticut says:

    Biggest item to stand out to me was 72% of the touring audience was female. 72%! I would have guessed 65%- but 3 out of 4 (almost)?! WOW!
    Avg. age was almost 54. But does that factor in the age of kids who attend? If so, then the median age of the adults must be more like 60+.
    Good info- I will read the report to see how they handle that.
    Thanks, Ken!

  • Paul Mendenhall says:

    I’m surprised by the low percentage of tickets sold online. I can’t remember the last time I bought a ticket any other way. What am I going to do, drive to the theatre, pay for parking, then stand in the weather while some bozo in front of me spends 30 minutes choosing his seats?

  • Brian Marshall says:

    Speaking as someone who lives in Cleveland and attends the “Broadway Series” of touring shows with a group of friends, most everyone we know buys their tickets as part of a subscription and until this past month, you could not purchase subscriptions online. But change is on the way!

  • Jason Epperson says:

    I think it’s important to remember that what people say is not always the same as what they do/feel. For instance, almost anywhere the question of whether you would prefer to get info electronically or through the mail shows up, people overwhelmingly choose electronically, however direct mail is still more effective for most types of shows (the ones that they haven’t heard of already).

  • Kristi R-C says:

    Folks prefer to buy at the ticket office because those online “convenience” fees add up fast! Also – there’s no doubt when you have a “real” ticket in hand versus a piece of paper with something printed on it from an online sale.
    My home theatre has an area right next to the box office where folks can park for free for 10-15 minutes to get their tickets – makes it easy to do when you’re downtown running errands.
    I’m concerned with the average moving up to 53.8. It had been in the mid-40s. Folks – take your kids to see a show!

  • alex says:

    Wow, this is useful to know. Makes one wonder about the touring capabilities of Book of Mormon – Though I may be under estimating the sense of humor of women over 50. Maybe they love that kind of humor as much as the boys.
    Makes sense about the incomes over 100,000. I’ve been thinking that really Broadway and Touring is an elitist art form. Unfortunately. Because it’s so dang expensive (even when you know how to work the deals to get discounts)
    So Broadway and Touring is for Rich people — only 20% of population is over 100,000? Movies are 15 in NYC (6 in the hinter lands) and it’s hard to see a broadway show for less than $70 — my boss spent over 1,000 on Spiderman for his whole family. I was uncomfortable when he was telling this to a client of ours who makes about 60,000 a year. (which is a lot in other states but not so much in NYC).
    I don’t know the answers, but I do know the problems, like everyone I suppose. Would like theater to be more accessible to people who are not rich.

  • Amyleigh1982 says:

    Alrighy – comparing with the report from 07-08 (where was last year’s???) a few things were worth noting.
    * 15.3M theatergoers vs. 16M this year (small whoop!)
    * Average age was 50 vs. 53 this year (Boo.)
    *43% were high-earners vs. 46% now.
    *44% subscribers down to 36% (Double boo.)
    *Average person saw 6 shows and now sees 4.4. (Boo again.)
    *The same amount still attend Broadway shows

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Ken Davenport
Ken Davenport

Tony Award-Winning Broadway Producer

I'm on a mission to help 5000 shows get produced by 2025.

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