The demographics of the Broadway Audience 2010-11


One of the benefits of the Annual Broadway League meeting held every December is that you get to pick up your glossy copy of the Broadway Audience Demographic Study.

This study is one of the most valuable pieces of information that a Broadway Producer can have.  If you want a show to be commercially successful, you have to understand who your natural audience is.  Why sure, you can push and stretch that audience with the right show, but it’s still imperative that you know who is naturally inclined to buy a theater ticket before you even dream about your show opening on Broadway.

The actual study is over 60 pages long and it’s chock full of all sorts of info, graphs and data about how people get to the theater (subway for NYC residents, car for surbanites), when they purchase their tickets, and more. I’d suggest you pick up the full report from the league when it is available.  You will be able to get it here.

In the meantime, I’ll tease you with the Executive Summary:

  •  In the 2010-2011 season, approximately 62% of all Broadway tickets were purchased by tourists.
  • 65% of the the audiences were female.
  • The average age of the Broadway theatergoer was 44 years.
  • 83% of all tickets were purchased by Caucasian theatergoers.
  • Broadway theatergoers were also quite affluent compared to the general United States population, reporting an average annual household income of $244,100.
  • Broadway theatergoers were a very well-educated group.  Of theatergoers over 25 years old, 78% had complete college and 39% had earned a graduate degree.
  • The average Broadway theatergoer reported attending 5 shows in the previous 12 months.  The group of devoted fans who attended 15 or more performances comprised only 6% of the audience but accounted for 33% of all tickets (4.1 million admissions).
  • Playgoers tended to be more frequent theatergoers than musical attendees.  The typical straight play attendee saw eight shows in the past year; the musical attendee, five.
  • The use of the Internet to purchase tickets has been steadily increasing.  In this season, 44% of respondents said they bought their tickets online.
  • 35% of respondents reported having purchased their tickets more than one month prior to the show.
  • The most popular sources for theatre information were, The New York Times and word-of-mouth.
  • Word-of-mouth was by far the most influential factor in show selection.
  • In general, advertisements were not reported to have been influential in making the purchasing decision.
  • 74% of the Broadway audience said that some kind of incentive (discounts, freebies, add-ons) would encourage them to attend shows more often.

So there you have it.  The 2010-11 Broadway audience, whether we like it or not.  (I especially dislike bullet point #4.  The good news is that there are some cool League programs designed to diversify our audience, expanding it at the same time.)

Do with this info as you will.

Just do me one favor.  Don’t complain about it.  If you don’t like it, do something to change it.



(Got a comment?  I love ’em, so comment below!  Email subscribers, click here, then scroll down, to say what’s on your mind!)


If you’re looking for more “economic” information about Broadway and how the demographics work with the dollars, check out this book:  Stage Money: The Business of the Professional Theatre.  It’s one of my favorites and I highly recommend it.

  • Michael Hallinan says:

    As someone with a high interest in marketing & publicity for the theater, I find this study to be completely astounding! These statistics not only give publicists and marketers such as myself an idea of how to putt butts in seats, but how better to improve the diversification, which I agree is key, and, most importantly, the execution of strategies to spread the word about the magical experience it is to see a Broadway show and how a night at the theater is something everyone should enjoy. It would be intriguing no less to compare these demographic reports by the season just to see where there may be differences amongst the shows that were playing on the boards as well as the economic situation at the time.

  • I’d love to see how Broadway stats compare to other markets (Broadway touring, Regional Equity houses, small experimental non-profits, etc). A side-by-side grid with all the same info would be fascinating to me. Especially since 62% of all Broadway tickets were purchased by tourists… what are those tourists’ theatre spending habits at home? Thanks for posting this info, Ken.
    (I found it fascinating that 62% are tourists but the “average theatregoer” said they attended 5 times in a year….so is the “average theatregoer” part of the remaining 48%? What is a tourist in that study, if not? 5-15 visits to NY in one year….sounds too frequent to call that person a tourist.)
    Tim Gonzalez-Wiler
    Casting Manager (and former Box Office Manager)
    Teatro ZinZanni, Seattle and San Francisco

  • playfull says:

    Most amazing stat…
    “Broadway theatergoers were also quite affluent compared to the general United States population, reporting an average annual household income of $244,100.”!
    a)Surely not just theatorgoers but also nice plump potential investors.
    b)Averages can be tricky but Is Broadway out of reach for the average person?

  • Kristopher says:

    I’m inclined to guess that if they do not live in New York or the surrounding metro area, they are probably considered a tourist.
    I agree that the fourth is the most disappointing. I am most surprised (or, perhaps caught off guard) by the statistic about play-goers versus musical addicts. I hope to see more musicals who offer what is valued in a play, in musicals.
    I am not shocked by the lack of effect from advertising.

  • Rant?? Why not!! says:

    What the “Broadway” and the “Off-Broadway” producers, investors, and the gutsiest and most talented creatives technicians in the world contribute to the New York City economy is, indeed, astounding…what they have contributed for generations and over the centuries to the art form is monumental.
    This ought to be remembered and reflected upon when some no-good, two-bit, cheap shot, self-proclaimed writer, hired by the Times, the Post or one of the other foundering newspapers we appropriately wrap fish with, has the audacity to “critique” the work of those ultimate risk-takers who are putting their money, their talent and their reputations on the line at every single curtain call. These individuals ought to be marginalized by every single member of your wonderful community. Today they may praise you and tomorrow they slander you.
    Broadway producers and theatre owners have finally learned from the airlines how to price your unsold seats to attempt to maximize the “yield” of the ultimate perishable commodity…the theatre seat.
    Now, if producers, publicists and marketeers would only have the guts to cease and desist from using in your advertising any, and I mean any, “quotes” from those two-bit cretins to validate your efforts, you will really make some progress!!
    It’s hard to believe you still gather at the ad agencies, the morning after every single premiere, to scour the papers in search of those little complimentary snippets from the cretins, to then buy ads from their very employers…is that really the most creative you all can be?? Shame on you if it is! Your children can do better.
    On the other hand, as one who has always supported the theatre despite financial results that justify having my head examined, my hat goes off to all of you who continue to take the risks you take, night after night, show after show. At some point, though, the powers behind this incredible cottage industry called “Broadway” need to stop groveling for the next “quote” and say “enough!” No individual shall ever again be empowered to close any show with the simple power of a poisoned pen. The audiences will most definitely do that if they so choose, we don’t need the “cretinue.”

  • Alex says:

    in Answer to b) yes. People who make an average income of around 50,000 (I think around that number is the median income in the US?) and people of color are primarily in that range can’t afford to go to theater as well as raise their children. So yes, Broadway is out of reach for the average person. I’m surprised the average income of Broadway theater go-ers is so high though. Which tells you basically that the 5% are going to the theater. Which as a theater artist who needs to make a living you need to produce stuff for that demographic. It’s a problem – you want a diverse audience, yet the diverse people can’t afford to pay to see theater… Theater artists don’t make that kind of money usually, and neither do diverse audiences we seek to reach — Theater has become a luxury good.

  • J says:

    I agree. Ben Brantley and the reviewers have waaaay to much clout. But until the general public stops weighing their decisions on what show to see based on the (highly subjective) reviews, its the way it will be.

  • The demographics are fascinating — thank you for sharing them! (I guess with ticket prices what they are it’s not surprising that bluyers and hefty household incomes.)

  • Bryan David says:

    Dear Mr. Davenport, et al:
    Your heading:
    The demographics of the Broadway Audience 2010-11
    “Just do me one favor. Don’t complain about it.If you don’t like it, do something to change it.”
    I have written over a dozen (12) Two-Act musicals. They rage from “Family-Friendly” ‘G’ rated:
    “Christmas Dreams & Holiday Wishes” ©
    To a flat out, ‘R’ rated:
    “Whitechapel” © The life & Times of ‘Jack The Ripper’ A Musical Love Story! ™
    Yet they all have one major thing in common. The cost to produce them! Or should I say the lack of MAJOR production costs. I can’t afford to take my wife & two daughters to a major Broadway way show without considering re-financing my home.
    ALL of my shows feature a single set. One costume per Actor and the only; ‘special effect’ it’s fog. That should cost a few hundred dollars, not thousands, nor millions per week to use.. No one flies, the sets are not complicated (and don’t get applause) I believe that what ever the cost of a given ‘Major Broadway Budget’ could produces ALL twelve of the shows I’ve written. This was done on purpose for four (4) reasons.
    1)It should allow a lot more people to afford to buy a ticket.
    2) The Producer(s) would not need to re-finance their homes to produce anyone of them.
    3) The cost of touring wouldn’t require half dozen trucks just for sets and costumes alone.
    4) And last but not lest, the ‘rights’ would be affordable to far more Regional as well as smaller theaters to produce and make a profit.
    Call it radical thinking, but isn’t live theatre supposed be affordable to EVERYONE?
    (Just one Playwright & Lyricist’s opinion.) One day I will have the opportunity to not only prove my point, but I will some Producer with vision with a sizable profit verses his/her investment. I am ready to be yes an, “Over-Night Sensation.
    Bryan David
    Playwright & Lyricist
    “Whitechapel” ©
    The Life & Times
    ‘Jack The Ripper’
    A Musical Love Story! ™
    © Copyright 1996/2007 Bryan David/Brandon Kress
    All Rights Reserved
    “Wilde About Me!” ©
    The Life, Loves & Lawsuits
    Oscar Wilde! ™
    © Copyright 2010 Bryan David/Brandon Kress
    All Rights Reserved

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