The Demographics of the Broadway Audience 2012-2013

“I’m in a demographics waaaaaay, so . . . stay with me!”  (If you know City of Angelsyou’ll get that reference.  If you don’t, you should, listen to this tune . . . it’s a Coleman masterpiece.)

What I was trying to say, for those of you who don’t speak musicalese, is that I’ve got demographics on the brain.

First it was last week’s Broadway Investor Survey results and yesterday’s follow up.  Today, it’s all about who the Broadway customers were in the last complete Broadway season (2012-2013).

Every year the Broadway League (that fancy trade org that represents Broadway Producers) does an even fancier survey of ticket buyers and makes the results available to League Members in a super-fancified glossy booklet.

And every year, I give you the highlights of the Executive Summary of this report, so you can use it how you see fit.  Any text emphasis (italicizing and underlining and e-jumping up and down) is mine, not The League’s.

Here’s what the Broadway League found out from ticket buyers in the 2012-13 season.

  • In the 2012 – 2013 season, tourists purchased approximately 66% of all Broadway tickets. International tourists comprised 23% of attendees, the highest percentage in recorded history.
  • Sixty-eight percent of the audiences were female.
  • The average age of the Broadway theatregoer was 42.5 years.  (Last year it was 43.5.  Progress?  Please???)
  • Seventy-eight percent of all tickets were purchased by Caucasian theatregoers.  (BOO!)
  • Broadway theatregoers were quite affluent compared to the general United States population, reporting an average annual household income of $186,500.
  • Of theatregoers over 25 years old, 74% had completed college and 36% had earned a graduate degree.
  • The average Broadway theatregoer reported attending 4 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 (3.6 million admissions).
  • Playgoers tended to be more frequent theatregoers than musical attendees. The typical straight play attendee saw seven shows in the past year; the musical attendee, three.
  • Word-of-mouth was the most influential factor in show selection.  (Always has been, always will be, no matter what technology comes out tomorrow.)
  • The most popular sources for theatre information were word-of-mouth, Broadway.com, and The New York Times.  (Dear Broadway.com,  some folks are going to be very mad at you.  For a list, please contact me.)
  • Forty-one percent of respondents said they purchased their tickets online.
  • The average reported date of ticket purchase for a Broadway show was 27 days before the performance.  (I so wish I had this stat from 20 years ago.  I’d take bets that it was TRIPLE this amount of time.)
  • Twenty-three percent of respondents said that some kind of advertisement prompted them to select the show.  (All that money and only 23%.  Seems scary, right?  Nahhhh.  People are influenced by advertising even when they don’t know it.  That’s the best kind.)
  • Forty-two percent of attendees walked to the theatre. Nineteen percent took the subway, and 14% drove in a car.

So what do you think?  Any snarky comments to go along with mine?  What do you do with this info?

And if you’d like to see how things have changed since last year or the year before, click below to check out those reports:

Broadway Demographics 2011-2012

Broadway Demographics 2010-2011

 

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

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Comments
  • Mark Shultz says:

    I think the spikes in the 18-24 and under 18 demos indicates that we are making progress as far as age goes. It will be interesting to see if the trend towards a younger audience is sustainable in the long run or if this is just an outlier. Wrote some more of my thoughts here: https://madisonand42nd.wordpress.com/2014/01/10/a-shift-in-broadway-audience-composition/

    Let me know what you think!

  • Tom says:

    Did they happen to mention what percentage paid full price? I saw 5 shows last year and except for one at full price,I had a discount. Even $5.00 off was enough to close the deal.

  • Kevin says:

    Nice article, Ken. Thank you for sharing and I enjoyed the City of Angels reference. I was lucky enough to see the original cast and loved it.

    The one comment I have about the advertising, especially online advertising, is that 23% sounds about right.

    Word of mouth is huge. The best ads come from theatre goers. Checking into the theatre via social media, people posting about the show they just saw, or better yet posting at intermission because they just can’t wait to share this incredible experience.

    Incenting these people to do what they’re already doing and will be marketing dollars well spent. Make sure they hashtag, or offer a promo for checking in. Typically speaking, these will also be younger theatre people so it’s a win-win.

    The misspent marketing money is with things like Google ads. They show targeted ads based on events like browsing history or YouTube views. The trouble here is that I’ve already been to the show’s website or watched the video on YouTube. I know about it and have already made my decision to see it or not. A banner ad for that show on a random website will do little more than remind me of something I’ve already decided upon.

    To bring it full circle – I’m seeing those banner ads, because I viewed the website/video after following a link I probably saw on social media.

    Incent the audience to get social about your show. Consider this – traditional media gets to see shows for free. How about a social media discounted ticket price. Or to take it a step further – during previews, there’s typically a press event. A sneak peek at the show. How about a social media event? The first 200/500/pick-a-number people to respond get invited to this event. The only stipulation is that they have to post, tweet, Instagram, Tumblr, YouTube, 4Square or Pinterest about the experience. I’ve seen you post similar thoughts, but it would be amazing to see it happen.

    Something similar happened with the Pippin cast recording last Spring – an album on which I can be heard thanks to social media promotion. It’s an experience I’ll never forget, it was impressively executed and on a random Tuesday morning I found myself and a few hundred others, singing in a church hall with Stephen Schwartz and Andrea Martin. Fun, social and very promotable.

    Thanks again for this website and your continued transparency into the the industry. It’s appreciated.

  • The one surprising stat is that only 41% bought tickets online, especially given the data. Where/how are the other 60% buying their tickets?

    • And another thing…I just checked Ken’s report from last year and the same stat was 47% which says year-over-year online sales are decreasing as a ticket sales channel. Hmmm. Question: is the survey methodology rigorous enough to interpret that downward change from 47% in 2012 to 41% in 2013 as significant? I can’t help but be skeptical. Ken–what are the other sales channels and stats mentioned in the report? Laurie

      • Solange De Santis says:

        That stat amazed me, too. Perhaps the other 59% included group sales, or people who went as part of a group or couple and didn’t know how the tickets were bought. I can’t believe people are mailing checks in envelopes much any more. Maybe phone sales are popular?

      • C.A. says:

        I don’t think it would account for nearly the entire 59%, but there’s also in-person purchases: people looking for discount tickets via rush, standing-room only, the TKTS Booth, etc.. (Outside of receiving a ticket or two as a gift from family, that’s how I manage to see Broadway shows, and I know that many of my 20- and 30-something peers do likewise.) That might also be part of the average reported date of ticket purchase being so little in advance.

  • Brian Jones says:

    Pretty interesting. One might draw a conclusion that theatre attendance is limited to wealthy people based on the median income stats. Perhaps some basic economic theory would suggest that a lower ticket price, especially for shows with mediocre attendance, might increase sales thereby increasing ticket volume to make up for a reduction in ticket prices. And it would be more accessible to a wider demographic to which certain advertising such, such as social media and word of mouth, could be more effective. Just a thought.

  • Jay Z says:

    So combining the data we see: middle-aged ny men (the producers) entertaining middle-aged women from out of town (the audiences). Is broadway basically the dating game on a large scale?

    Also: if you rephrase the producer question about previous performing experience, over 60% have performed!

    Since most people in the arts start out as performers (Ken included), perhaps producing is the final stage of a person’s artistic path. All the world’s a stage, and every man eventually a producer…

  • Paul L says:

    Hi Ken!

    There is another tangential demographic that you really are not catching in these statistics. You touch it, but don’t attack it. You have the 78% Caucasian audience, but what about the rest of our audience. The fact is that it is very ethnic. Take any of the great New York ethnic communities, and they just don’t show up unless the show in question has a cast which is representative of their group, or is by a playwright that belongs to their group, or the content of the show is related in some way to their group.I have watched this for many years, and although my observations are anecdotal,it is clear that is where the missing piece of your audience is.

    We need to address this issue if we are to build a well rounded New York audience. And, as we all know, this type of issue is always fraught with misunderstandings. But unless we are prepared to discuss these things, in good faith inside these communities, the sensitivities that surround these types of issues, will cause these discussions to never get off the ground.

    Forgive my passion, but I think that this issue is a crying shame. It is so buried under the pc sensitivities of all of us that no one wants to own it.

    For everybody who reads this, next time you are in the theater for a show, stand up and take a moment to look behind you. Just scan the audience, and I’m sure that you will catch it.

    Well here’s a hope that one day I’ll be able to stand up and take a look, and I’ll see an audience just filled with faces and garments representing all of our worthy communities.

    Best, Paul.

  • Rich Mc says:

    Per Tom’s comment above, ticket discounting is a key issue. Survey should not merely probe percentage of theater-goers that obtained a discount, but should allow drill-down to divulge average percent reductions from list prices for both plays & musicals.

  • George says:

    Trying to think back – wasn’t “City of Angels” that great concept show where the “imagined” film noir story was in B&W on stage…

    In any case – NOT surprised about the 23% who reacted to an (film/TV) ad and saw a show…

    I wish I could find it, but the Guthrie Theatre did a detailed study and found that – even their more loyal suscribers NEVER watched the free “video” clips from their upcoming productions… people who love Live Theater are just NOT much influenced by “video” representations…

    g

  • George says:

    Oh, as for the ethnicity of the audience…

    I was shocked that 1.2% Blacks only invest in this business (given the considerable number of Black shows and wealthy sports stars, entertainers and politicians…)

    I’d say you concentrate on keeping your non-black audience coming back thru the doors… there has been a LOT done to try a grow that audience… at a certain point you are spending more money than you are making… just accept the reality of the numbers and move on… we aren’t here to – change – society or human nature… just make a living… providing entertainment.

    And it’s tuff enuff to do THAT in this field!

    g

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  • the real donna says:

    Explain your “boo” for Caucasian majority in attendance. I wouldn’t say you’re snarky. It’s just stupid.

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