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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How much does touring Broadway impact the economy.

Another interesting annual report from the Broadway League was released yesterday, and it has nothing with Broadway in NYC.

This report details the economic impact that Broadway had on the nation in 2008-2009 by exporting its productions from Times Square to Tennessee, Florida, California, and just about everywhere in between.  Yep, Broadway truly is the longest street in the US.  We’re all a lot closer than we think.

To quote the study, “the goal of this analysis is to quantify the impact of Touring Broadway to the metropolitan areas surrounding the cities that presented shows, and the economic contribution of the Touring Broadway industry overall.”

Here are the stats from the Executive Summary:

  • In the 2008-2009 season, there were approximately 40 Broadway touring shows traveling across the country playing in 192 venues.
  • Producers and presenters spent $807.2 million to produce and run these tours in the places that presented them or in New York City.
  • Moreover, theatregoers who came to an area specifically to attend shows spent another $687.2 million on ancillary activities such as dining and transportation.
  • Thus the total direct spending due to Touring Broadway amounted to $1.49 billion.
  • This money then generated another $1.86 billion in secondary rounds of spending so that the full economic contribution of Touring Broadway totaled $3.35 billion.
  • Eight-seven percent of this money ($2.9 billion) supported the communities that presented Broadway tours.  Another $425.8 million impacted New York City.
  • On average, Broadway tours visiting cities contributed an economic impact of 3.5 times the gross ticket sales to the local metropolitan area’s economy.

To get a copy of the complete report, visit the Broadway League.

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How much of an economic impact did Broadway make in 2008-2009?

For 15 years, The Broadway League has been measuring our industry’s impact on the NYC economy.

This year, the League changed up how these figures were calculated (much like how the League changed the publishing of our grosses and attendance a year ago).  Previously, the impact only counted money spent by those people who came to NYC “primarily to see a Broadway show, or extended a trip made for another purpose in order to go to a Broadway show.” The reason for the change was to account for the incredible increase in out-of-town visitors (especially the international crowd).  In the 1980-81 season, 69% of our audience was from outside of NYC.  In the 2008-09 season, this figure was up to 81%.

So, to get a more accurate reading, the League now asks visitors to rate Broadway’s importance in their decision to come to NYC on a scale of 1 to 10, and then counts the 8s and above as a “Broadway Tourist” and studies their spending habits.

This more quantitative approach produced a much higher, and I’d argue more accurate, account of what the economic effects of our industry really are to this city.

The results of this year’s report?

In the 2008-2009 season, Broadway’s economic impact was approx $9.8 b-b-b-billion dollars.

To quote the Executive Summary of the report:

“This amount was comprised of direct spending in three areas: spending by producers to mount and run shows ($2 billion); spending by theatre owners to maintain and renovate venues ($51 million); and ancillary purchases by non-NYC residents who said that Broadway was an important reason in their coming to New York City ($7.7 billion) (“Broadway Tourists”).

Those are some serious bucks, don’t you think?

What’s more interesting to me than Broadway Tourist spending is that Producers alone are directly responsible for initiating over 20% of this impact, spending over $2 billion on the production of shows.

Shouldn’t the city, the restaurant industry, the Taxi and Limo Commission, the hotel industry, and so forth, be tripping over themselves to help us with promotions, marketing, tax incentives, and so forth to inspire us to produce more?

To read the release from The League, and to learn how to get a hard copy of the report, click here.

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At the Broadway League Conference: Day 3/Wrap it up!

The final session of this year’s successful Broadway League Spring Road Conference was an open-mic wrap up of the week, the year, and asked the question . . . what do we do now?

Some of the issues that the membership wanted to hear more about in the coming year (and at the next conference) were dynamic pricing, how to educate the road consumers about new Broadway product before the shows get to town, lobbying against increasing entertainment taxes, social media, and social media, and more social media!

The session was topped off when one of my Favorite Quoters had his usual way with words when he said he felt there was no longer a “single bullet to sell tickets.”  A discussion erupted about how in the “Cameron Mackintosh Era,” the marketing campaigns for shows were easier to design, easier to implement, and always returned.

Not so much anymore.

We’ve changed.  And we’re not the only ones.

The record industry has changed, the movie industry has changed, the advertising industry has gone upside down and back around again.  We’re not alone.

The challenge for all of us is how we move quickly in the constantly-shifting marketing and development landscape, and how we share that information with each other (The Quoter suggested conference calls between markets presenting the same show so that those presenting that show later in the tour might benefit from the trials and tribulations of those who present it early in the tour).

The game has changed.  We have to learn the rules.

Or better . . . we have to rewrite them.

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At the Broadway League Conference: Day 1/Kids ‘R Theatergoers Too

One of the hippest long-term audience development initiatives the Broadway League came up with over the last few years was the establishment of a Kids Advisory Board.  The Board is made up of thirty kids, ages 11 – 16, from all over the country.  What do they have in common?  They love the Broadway!

By tapping the minds of these young avid influencers, the League is able to learn the simple answers to a host of questions that could help secure the health of the Broadway theater through Generation Z (aka The Net Generation), Generation Ai, and beyond.

At the first day of the Broadway League conference, the League put six of the members of the Advisory Board on a panel and grilled them about their theater habits, their friends’ habits, and more.

Here is a bullet point list of some things that I learned from our next generation of audiences, actors, and producers:

  • The entire panel said that it was their parents who suggested which shows to see.
  • 5 of the 6 panel members said that their #1 internet destination was Facebook.  The 6th member didn’t have a Facebook page, but she did have a blog.
  • 5 of the 6 panel members did NOT visit any theater websites (e.g. Playbill.com, BroadwaySpace.com, etc.).
  • All of the panel members said their parents paid for their tickets.  One piped up and said, “That’s what they’re for.”
  • All of the panel members preferred musicals.  Half of the panel said that music was important for keeping not only their attention, but the attention of their younger siblings who couldn’t sit still for too long without the excitement of a musical.
  • One panel member was a pretty regular playgoer, but she said she didn’t start seeing plays until she was 14.
  • All of the panel watched the Tonys, but said their friends didn’t.
  • When asked what the #1 thing they enjoyed about Broadway was, a survey of these 6 plus another 700 revealed that the “performers” were the most exciting part (translation – expect more star casting in the future).
  • One of them read reviews, but none of them let the reviews influence their decision either way.  As the only boy on the panel said, “It doesn’t matter what they [the reviewers] say.  What matters is your opinion.”

There’s a lyric in Bye Bye Birdie that goes something like, “Kids!  Who can understand anything they say?”

Well, we better start trying to understand what they say, because these kids, and the thousands of others around the country just like them, are the premium ticket buyers of tomorrow.

A giant lollipop to The League for letting us listen.

Stay tuned for Day #2 from The League Conference tomorrow!

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