Another study on Broadway performance schedules. Results revealed.

As a follow-up to their recent report on the Broadway audience’s preference for certain performance times, Telecharge dug a bit deeper and did another study to determine “whether there was a consumer preference for matinees on Wednesday, for 7 PM curtains on weekdays, and 2 PM curtains on Saturdays.”

I was going to summarize the results for you, but frankly, the report is so fascinating that I’m printing it verbatim, with a huge hat tip to Telecharge for sharing their results with the community.

It’s info like this that will help us break through the ceiling that we’ve been hitting our heads on over the last few years.

Here is what Telecharge found out:


  • Wednesday is not necessarily the preferred day for a weekday matinee. Nearly 80% said they would see a matinee on another weekday other than Wednesday.  Friday was the day selected by most of those expressing a preference.
  • The majority of respondents would prefer more weekday curtains to be at 7PM and would be more inclined to go on another night if the show was at 7PM.
  • While most customers prefer the 2PM curtain time on Saturdays, when offered a range of times, nearly one third preferred a later time.


7PM Curtain Time

  • When asked whether curtain time was a factor in the choice of the day of the week on which you saw a Broadway show, 52% said yes, 48% no.
  • 72% would be more inclined to see a show on another day of the week at 7PM.
  • 69% would prefer if there were more days of the week when shows performed at 7PM.
  • 36% would prefer 7PM shows on Thursday
    • 21% prefer Monday
    • 16% prefer Wednesday
    • 13% prefer Friday
    • 14.5% prefer Saturday
    • 10% skipped the question (No other question saw as many customers skip answering.)
  • 53% care when the show ends, 47% care when it starts
  • 67% want to eat before the show, 20% after
  • 56% choose performance based on seat location, 39% on price, 5% on performance time.
  • 42% of respondents were not from NY or NJ.
  • 26.5% of respondents work in NYC, twice as many as the other groups.

Wednesday Matinee

  • 69% said Wednesday would NOT be their first choice for a daytime matinee performance.
  • 79% would see a matinee on another weekday other than Wednesday.
  • 50.5% said the day of the week did not matter
    • 37% prefer Friday
    • 7% prefer Thursday
    • 3.5% prefer Tuesday
  • 59% said 2PM is their preferred time
    • 19% prefer 1 PM
    • 4.5% prefer 12 noon
    • 17% prefer 3PM
  • 59% care when the show starts, 41% care when it ends
  • 39% want to eat before the show, 55% after
  • 36% of the respondents were not from NY or NJ.
  • 14% work in NYC

Saturday Matinee

  • 72.5% said 2PM was their preferred time for a matinee.  16% had no preference, 12% said they wanted a different time.
  • 49% said a different time would not work better, 34% had no preference, 17% wanted a different time.
  • 56% preferred a 2PM matinee
    • 31% prefer a later time (2:30PM, 3PM or 3:30PM)
    • 13% prefer an earlier time (1PM or 12 noon)
  • 55% care when the show starts, 45% care when it ends
  • 56% prefer to eat dinner after the show, 39% eat lunch before
  • 44% of the respondents were not from NY or NJ.
  • 13% work in NYC


A majority of customers who saw 7PM shows are more concerned about when a show ends, while a significant majority of Wednesday matinee customers (and a smaller majority of Saturday matinee customers) care what time the show starts. Most matinee customers want to eat after the show, while a majority of the 7PM customers want to eat before. This means that some shorter shows could start their Saturday matinees later depending on the audience they attract but probably not a weekday matinee.

The strong preference for the 7PM curtain, the predilection for eating before, coupled with the focus on what time the show ends could tell us that 8PM curtains may work for short shows but not long ones. Maybe customers want to see three-hour shows at 7PM, but would still be interested in seeing 90-minute shows at 8PM.

7PM Curtain Time

Half of respondents said that curtain time was a factor in their past purchase decision, but we also wanted to know if they would be more inclined to go on another night — if it was at 7PM — in the future.

We assume that people who attend on a Tuesday night know that 7PM curtains are not the norm for Broadway, or that they have chosen that day specifically for the 7PM curtain time. But do ticket buyers know that Tuesday curtains are at 7PM? Outside the Broadway community and regular Manhattan theatre goers (remember that Manhattanites preferred a Thursday curtain), this might not be the case at all. If half of respondents said curtain time was not a factor in their decision, was it because they did not know that the show was at 7PM and not at 8PM when making their purchase?

We see lots of evidence customers do not have the level of information we think or hope they have. How many people in the industry knew Finian’s Rainbow had preview pricing, lower prices on Wednesday evenings, and 7PM curtains Tuesday-Thursday? The answer is not everyone. If we didn’t know, why would we think that customers did? Once a customer has attended a show at 7PM, maybe they would prefer it (as many Tony voters do) and would like to see more 7PM curtain times.

Wednesday Matinee

Among customers who expressed a preference (50%), the strongest preference was for Friday matinees (37%).

Most customers said that Wednesday is not their first choice for a matinee. A substantial number reported they would see a matinee performance on another day of the week, but when we asked which day, the answers varied (and 50% had no preference). There does not appear to be any special significance to matinees on a Wednesday, and customers would be willing to go on another day of the week. If some shows want to experiment with matinees on another day, they will probably not lose sales if they allow enough time to sell the performance in advance, and they might pick up additional business if they choose a day when there are more tourists in the city.

While respondents expressed the strongest preference for Friday among weekday matinees, there are issues to consider. Aside from the challenge of back-to-back days with two performances, school groups and bus tour operators may not find this day of the week appealing. When asked, some bus companies said they would not want their buses attempting to leave the city at 5PM on a Friday, nor will all schools want their kids in the city that late on a Friday. Many shows that perform on Sunday night sell a significant percentage of their tickets between Friday and Sunday; therefore, swapping Sunday evening for Friday matinee has risk. Changing the weekday matinee from Wednesday to Friday — if you do not rely on school groups or bus companies — may be a strategy to consider for shows looking to improve sales on their weekday matinee.

Saturday Matinee

73% of respondents initially said 2PM was their preferred time for a Saturday matinee, but when asked if another time would work better, only 49% said a different time would not work better. When given a choice of times, 56% stayed with 2PM, and others split between earlier and later curtain times. The answers are similar to those for time for Wednesday matinees. This suggests a small degree of ambiguity on the optimal time for a matinee, whereas the answers on day of the week for a weekday matinee were more definitive.

Do tourists like matinees perfs? Do city residents like Tuesday eves? Results of study revealed.

Our friends at Telecharge, led by the Swami himself, recently completed a very detailed study of our audience and their favorite performance times.  In the words of TCharge, the objective of the study was as follows:

“We decided to see if there were significant differences in the geographical breakdown of customers by performance, using sales data from Broadway shows for performances between August 31, 2009 and January 3, 2010.”

In other words, does a Manhattanite want to go to a show on a weekday or a weekend?  What about your Aunt Sally who comes in from the Shore?  And what about the family of four from New Mexico who comes in for Christmas?

Here is what Telecharge found out, and there are a few surprises:



are less likely to buy matinees than evenings.

theatergoers prefer matinees over evenings. 

who live in Manhattan prefer Tuesday over Friday or Saturday night.  

·        People who live in Manhattan prefer Thursday performances over ANY other night.

tourists attend the theatre on Thursday evening than on Wednesday.


(customers from outside the tri-state area) are less likely to buy matinees
than evening performances. 

o    The matinees all have
a below average percentage of sales from tourists

§  The overall average
for all performances was 51%, with the lowest percentage at 41% and the highest
at 66%. 

o    The percentage of
tourists buying for Wednesday matinees was 44%. 

o    Sunday matinee was
the performance with the lowest percentage of tourists at 41%, followed by
Wednesday matinee, then Saturday matinee at 48%. 

o    There are more orders
from tourists for Friday night than Saturday night; the performance with the
next largest number of orders from tourists is Saturday matinee followed by a
big drop to Tuesday, then Thursday evening, Sunday matinee, and then Wednesday

o    The performance with
the highest percentage of tourists is Sunday evening at 66% followed by Monday
evening at 65%; however, there are more tourists seeing a show on Monday night
than Sunday night.  Friday evening is next at 57% while Saturday night is

buyers prefer matinees.  There are more people from the suburbs seeing
theatre on a Saturday or Sunday matinee than there are seeing a show on Friday
or Saturday night. 

o    There are more people
from the suburbs seeing a show on Wednesday afternoon than there are for any
evening performance, including Friday and Saturday night.

o    The performance with
the most orders from the suburbs is Saturday matinee followed by Sunday
matinee, then Wednesday matinee, Saturday evening, and Friday evening.

at 7

o    There are more orders
from tourists for Tuesday night than for Thursday evenings or Sunday matinees.

o    There are more orders
from people living in Manhattan for Tuesday night than for Friday or Saturday

buyers.  Tuesday is the second most popular performance of the week for
people from Manhattan, after Thursday.  Friday night is third, then
Saturday, and Wednesday night.  The weekend matinees are a distant sixth
and seventh in order.


Customers in the Boroughs gravitate
towards weekends:  Saturday matinee, Saturday evening, Sunday matinee,
Friday night, then Tuesday night.  


Pretty cool stuff, right?  The above data allows you to target your initiatives accordingly.  Trying to appeal to city dwellers in January?  You now know when they are most likely to want to come to the theater.  Conversely, you now know when they don’t, and when you may have to dig into your marketing/discounting bag o’ tricks to get them out of their hobbit holes.

The other big question that the Telecharge report poses is about that matinee performance time.  Sure, suburbanites love them, but if our tourists are the bread and butter of our audience, maybe during peak tourist season, that matinee time should be later, giving them more time to dance around the city before they sit down to watch dancing chorus boys and girls.

Telecharge is promising some more research on this subject, and when it’s released, I’ll release it to you.

Tremendous thanks to them for doing the work, and for sharing it with us.

Because sharing information makes us all stronger.



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