Just who goes to Broadway National Tours anyway? The Broadway Touring Demographics of 2013-14.

Studying demographics is like studying the ingredients in your food.  You want know what’s in there, so you can make sure it’s gonna keep you healthy for a long time to come.

That’s why every year I post the Broadway demographics as reported by the Broadway League.  But there’s a whole set of different demographics for the folks who see Broadway shows in cities all over the world.  Since what happens on the road has a direct impact on what happens on Broadway and vice versa, it’s essential to study these ingredients as well.

And thanks to the Broadway League, we can.

The League just published its annual study and here’s a summary of their summary, along with a few notes from me, comparing the Broadway Audience to the Touring Audience.

  • In the 2013-2014 season, Broadway shows touring across North America drew 13.8 million attendances.  (NOTE FROM KEN:  Broadway saw only 12.21 million attendees.  The Road Audience is 13% larger than the Broadway Audience.  Now do you see how important The Road is?)
  • Seventy-one percent of attendees were female.  (NOTE FROM KEN:  The Broadway Audience is 68% female.  Close to The Road, but there are still more X chromosomes on The Road.)
  • The average age of the Touring Broadway theatregoer was 53 years.  (NOTE FROM KEN:  The Road Audience is almost 10 years older than the Broadway Audience?  That makes me nervous.)
  • Ninety-two percent of Touring Broadway theatregoers were Caucasian.  (NOTE FROM KEN:  And this one just makes me sad.  Broadway’s stat here is 80%.  And I thought that was bad.)
  • Seventy-six percent of the audience held a college degree and 34% held a graduate degree.
  • Forty-nine percent of national theatregoers reported an annual household income of more than $100,000, compared to only 22% of Americans overall.
  • Forty-one percent of respondents subscribed to the “Broadway Series” at their local venues.
  • On average, Touring Broadway attendees saw 4.5 shows per year.  (NOTE FROM KEN:  Makes sense that they see more shows, as most are going to be subscribers.)
  • Women continued to be more likely than men to make the decision to purchase theatre tickets.
  • The majority of audiences looked to the theatre’s website to find information about the show.  (NOTE FROM KEN:  This is much different than NY, again due to subscriptions.)
  • The most commonly cited sources for show selection (other than being part of the subscription) were: the music, personal recommendation, Tony Awards and articles written about the show.  (NOTE FROM KEN:  This is all the same as in NYC, with a little less dependency on advertising, because shows aren’t in these towns long enough to have big advertising budgets.  Want to be big on The Road?  You better be big in NY first.)
  • The reported influence of Tony Awards in deciding to see a show continued to grow.  Twenty-four percent of respondents said that Tony Awards or nominations were a reason they attended the show, compared in 8% in the 2005-2006 season.
  • Only 15% of respondents said that an advertisement influenced them to select the show and 12% said they were influenced by a newspaper critic’s review.
  • Sixty-two percent of the audience said that some kind of incentive would encourage them to attend theatre more frequently, such as discounts or special perks.
  • Nearly three quarters of respondents said they used Facebook.
  • Theatregoers said that the most effective type of advertising was an email from the show or presenter.  (NOTE FROM KEN:  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  Everyone should look to double their email list every year.)
  • Forty-four percent of Touring Broadway theatregoers purchased tickets online.
  • Advance sales to single-ticket buyers have been steadily increasing over the past 10 years.Thirty-eight percent of respondents said that different performance times would encourage more frequent attendance..
  • Besides theatre, moviegoing was theatregoers’ most popular leisure activity.
  • Thirty percent of respondents said they made a visit to New York City in the past year.  Of those, 81% attended a Broadway show while in town.  (NOTE FROM KEN:  And this is the stat I was looking for.  81%.  That’s huge.  Like 3.35 million huge.)

For me, the last stat is what says it all.  See a lot of people think Broadway begets The Road.  But I think we should focus on the reverse.  See, it’s much easier for a person in Dallas to see a show in Dallas, rather than NYC, right?  So perhaps Broadway would benefit from encouraging Dallas citizens to see shows in Dallas first, before trying to sell them Broadway.  Get them to buy into what’s close to them, what’s easy for them, and they’ll work their way up to Broadway.

And then we work on that 70% of those 13.8 million people who see shows out of town but who don’t get to NYC.  If we got just 10% of that group to pack a bag and board a bus to NYC, why we’d add another million people to our demographic and budgetary bottom line.

 

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Comments
  • Ken Scott says:

    I think part of the issue is that for the most part, in America, we only care about the best. In professional sports, no one really watches minor league basketball or football. Baseball’s minor league survives because of all the other attractions. In the theater world, if the perception is that Broadway is the best and everything else is second tier, it would be difficult for them to come. I realize as I am saying all of this that NY has a thriving off-broadway industry, but I wonder if across the country, it certain cities that is what people are saving their money for. Does it happen often that the “major league” talent will do a run on the broadway tour that would give people the extra feel of broadway and get extra butts in the seats.

  • Landon Shaw says:

    Hi Ken,

    Huge Fan…I love the blog! I had a question/comment in regards to these statistics. Seeing as how the median age for the touring shows is 53, I think it is safe to say that in most markets these patrons become subscribers to a Broadway Series because in MOST cases…1.) Subscription series are cheaper than a Broadway show. 2.) Convenience and routine-they know how long it takes to get to the theatre. They know where they like to park and how much it costs. They have the whole thing more or less down to a science (again based on the notion that they are a subscriber.) 3.) Flexibility with tickets as a subscriber…most Theatres will allow their subscribers to trade for another show if they are unable to attend their usual night/day. They also have options if there is a show in the season they don’t care for, so in a 5 show season they can just pay for 4 and maybe get a “freebie” thrown in like a non-equity one nighter or a concert or something like that. 5.) Seat selection and retention! Subscribers love that they get to pick their seats and keep those seats OR better yet, move up when closer seats become available.

    Now, I am using the “subscriber” as they most likely have the disposable income to come to NYC for a Broadway show. Based on the statistics, they are most likely the percentage attending at least 1 Broadway show a year. They enjoy the theatre and are willing to spend money to see it, it has become a part of their culture. So…the question becomes how do you get potentially the non-subscribers that just see WICKED or THE LION KING or the familiar shows when they come to “step out” and explore NYC?! For starters, I think cost is a big deterrent. For the non-subscriber, chances are they saved up for that one special night at the theatre to see that show. They most likely may only do it every two years or so, again because of cost or because they are not aware of anything other than the “familiar” shows that have been around for awhile. Which is a whole other topic for me in that I feel these touring houses could do better in selling these shows and making them more accessible…but we will save that for another time.

    So, my question or comment is do you think another “Broadway” (if you will) would work. What I mean is, look at Branson, MO. Nice Central location with an airport and plenty of accommodations. For the most part, most people have heard of it and associate it with “entertainment” and family attractions. Now, sadly, as of late with some of the main headliners passing away, the economy, and other factors…there happen to be a fair amount of empty “Broadway” sized venues just sitting vacant. So, is there an opportunity to extend the “feel” and “pulse” somewhat of Broadway and bring that to a central location which will allow MORE people to participate? This could also solve the problem of having no open Broadway venues for shows that are ready to open. It could become a great out of town “tryout” city, plenty of skilled Union labor ready and willing to work, talented actors from the Midwest that either moved to NYC to have a career that may love being able to be back home or close to back home, and MORE AEA jobs…which is always a good thing!

    Now I know there can never and will never be another “Broadway”…you just can’t replicate all of that! However, to that patron that knows NYC is beyond them financially (at least for now) this could be the NEXT best option and will still do what we ultimately want and need, which is create and nurture new patrons of LIVE theatre that will make attending BIG BUDGET Union shows a part of their culture and pass that on!! So…instead of inventing ways to get people to NYC, bring a flavor of NYC to the people and NOT in a road show! Give them a sit down, fully mounted, open ended run of a HIT Broadway show and see Branson become “Broadson” or “Bransway” (we will let the focus groups decided which one they like.)

  • Joseph Giglio says:

    so if I did the math right that means that of all the people seeing a Broadway show (8.52 million) 39,3 % saw a touring company and then came to NYC to see a show. That is an stat. Funny that you missed that one Ken

  • Joel Blum says:

    Great blog! Very informative.
    I agree, Ken, that it is a sad statistic that there aren’t more people of color coming to the theater. In pondering why this is a fact, I guess, it can only come down to three possible explainations: 1. The subject matter of most shows in general aren’t appealing to other ethnic groups. Broadway still seems pretty white. 2. The ticket prices, don’t favor the income levels of most African American, and Hispanics that live in New York. 3. (And I guess this is really part of number one) I don’t think it is clear to the different ethnic communities that many of the shows on Broadway ARE ethnically diverse. I think the perception is that if a show is not a black show or a Hispanic show or an Asian show, then there aren’t going to be people of color in it. And that is not the case generally. As you know equity has a policy that all shows must be open to and see all ethnic groups during the casting process. I don’t know if it would be valuable if the public knew that the Broadway theater encouraged diversity.
    But the main reason I think is the fact that there are not enough shows that deal with the very real issues of race in this country, despite the fact that there are, and have been great and historic examples of such: SHOW BOAT (um like THE first book musical) SOUTH PACIFIC, WEST SIDE STORY. One can say that Broadway has been a trail blazer in highlighting racism and ethnic issues in this country…or at least it used to be. Yes, there has been the Motown shows, and shows that are all African American casts, and there have been a number of all Asian shows, but unless they are huge hits, like The Wiz, King and I, and Miss Saigon, they will have a limited audience. I think what we need to go for here is to have as diverse an audience as the shows themselves. And I think it needs to start with shows about the real issues of race in this country. Every season needs to at least strive for one or two. We need to encourage the writing such shows. Therefore, there needs to be more shows about diversity and race, which, I believe is the on going number one issue of this country. Let Broadway again be a champion of such issues.

  • Wow, the lack of diversity both in background and income is staggering. I wish there were more programs to promote affordable broadway caliber theatre on the road. I find it’s easier to snag deals to shows in NYC than it is when I visit a friend on a tour.

  • Mary says:

    Yep. I’m 53, white, female, season subscriber, $100K+ income, Facebook user, and about to make my every-other-year pilgrimage to NY. I buy my tickets online, watch the Tonys every year and make sure to see the winners when they come through town. Are you sure your researcher wasn’t just following me around?

    Regarding visiting NY, I always choose to see shows that either are unlikely to tour, or are brand new, not on the touring schedule yet.

    Regarding Facebook use, I always post a photo of the Playbill of the show I’m seeing; as a result my friends ask for theatre recommendations because they know I see a lot of shows.

    Have you researched how cast albums affect attendance? For example, I just got a preview of five songs from Allegiance, which I’m sure is to encourage me to see the show when it opens in NY. Are people likely to listen to a cast album before seeing a show?

  • Rick says:

    Ken: I think you have the Broadway attendee numbers wrong. Playbill reported more than 12 million for the 2013-2014 season.

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