The League’s Report on the Broadway Demographic

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The League of American Theatres and Producers put out its annual press release on the demographics of the Broadway audience, and as usual there’s plenty of fact and plenty of spin. I have pasted in most of the salient parts of the press release below, but please allow me to direct you to some interesting tidbits.

First, “non-Caucasians” comprised 26% of Broadway’s attendees — a much better figure than previous years, but it still means that 3 out of every 4 ticket buyers is lily white. And I don’t get the sense that the Broadway behemoth is really all that interested in adjusting those figures to more accurately represent the changing American (and New York City, maybe more important) demographic.

Second, the “average of of the Broadway theatergoer was 41.2 years old.” Really? Perhaps it’s those 1.42 million tickets being purchased by people under 18 that brought the average down — because if you look at the audience on almost any given night, the average age doesn’t give me much hope. I’m not ageist, just concerned. If you read Charlotte St. Martin’s pull-quote, it makes it sounds like Broadway’s just this young, hip, happening place, when in the truth most of Broadway is more about the replacement hip.

Anyway, those in the OOB/indie theatre movement should pay particular attention to methodology statement. Interesting stuff.

THE LEAGUE OF AMERICAN THEATRES AND PRODUCERS RELEASES ANNUAL NEW YORK “DEMOGRAPHICS OF THE BROADWAY AUDIENCE” REPORT FOR 2006-2007 SEASON

–TOURISTS COMPRISED 65% OF THE 12.3 MILLION TICKETS SOLD LAST SEASON
–HIGHEST PROPORTION OF INTERNATIONAL TOURISTS AND AUDIENCE DIVERSITY IN RECORDED HISTORY
–INTERNET PURCHASES GREW BY 368% SINCE THE 1999-2000 SEASON
–THEATREGOERS UNDER 18 ACCOUNTED FOR RECORD 1.42 MILLION TICKETS

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(November 5, 2007) The latest annual demographics report by The League of American Theatres and Producers, The Demographics of the Broadway Audience 2006-2007, reveals that tourists (domestic U.S. and international) accounted for approximately 65% of the 12.3 million tickets that were purchased to Broadway shows in New York City, the largest percentage in the past two decades.

The analysis is based on extensive survey data gleaned from audience questionnaires distributed through out the 2006-2007 Broadway season in New York City. The report reveals that attendance by international visitors to Broadway shows surpassed pre-September 11 levels, totaling 1.9 million tickets. Foreign tourists comprised 16% of attendances, the highest percentage in recent history, which is significant to Broadway as this audience stays longer and sees more shows than domestic tourists.

Broadway continues to make strides in diversifying its audiences. Twenty-six percent of admissions were made by non-Caucasian theatergoers – the highest proportion in recorded history. This translated into 3.18 million tickets, a 17% increase from the 2005-2006 season and a 56% increase from 5 years ago.

The average age of the Broadway theatergoer was 41.2 years old, slightly younger than in the past few years, while those under 18 years accounted for a record 1.42 million tickets, a 23% increase from the previous season.

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“As there is more of a choice for the theatregoer than ever before, it is exciting to report that we are seeing a wider audience for Broadway. Our theatregoers are both younger and more diverse than ever, and, we have more out of town guests experiencing Broadway,” commented Charlotte St. Martin, Executive Director of The League of American Theatres and Producers. “With our goal to make Broadway a stronger national brand, we do believe that the increased attendance from visitors to New York City reflects that these efforts are working. And a stronger national brand will not only assist the New York City Broadway audience, but all of the shows that are touring throughout the country.”

The report also shows that the use of the Internet for the purchase of tickets has grown by 368% since the 1999-2000 season. On-line purchase was the most popular method of ticket buying for a second year in row. Only 11% of theatregoers said they purchased their tickets via the telephone, while 20% said they went directly to the box office. Twenty-seven percent of the audience purchased their tickets on the day of the performance.

Broadway continued to attract repeat customers with the average theatregoer attending five shows in the past year, a figure level with the past several seasons. Playgoers tended to be more frequent theatregoers than musical attendees. The typical playgoer saw seven shows in the past year, compared with four for the musical attendee. Those who saw fifteen or more shows comprised 6% of the audience, and represented 31% of all tickets sold.

Word-of-mouth was the single strongest reported influence in show selection when it came to seeing a musical, cited by 46% of theatregoers. Critical reviews and articles were much more influential with playgoers than with musical attendees. Two new queries in this report concern performance time preferences and mode of transportation. Thirty-five percent of theatergoers said that different performance times would encourage them to attend theatre more often. The bulk of respondents preferred earlier curtain times. In getting to the theatre, 38% of respondents said they arrived at the theatre by foot, implying that they either lived or worked nearby, or were staying in an area hotel.

Printed versions of the reports are available for purchase online at www.livebroadway.com/orderform.html

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About the Methodology
From June 2006 through June 2007, the League’s Research Department administered surveys at 23 different productions at 72 individual performance times. Shows were selected on a quarterly basis to represent what Broadway was offering that season (i.e., a proportionate number of musicals versus straight plays; revivals versus original works; and new productions versus long-running shows). Questionnaires were distributed at multiple performances per show to account for variances in the weekday, weekend, evening and matinee audiences.

Completed questionnaires were tabulated and weighted based upon the actual paid attendance for each show. In total, 10,800 questionnaires were distributed and 5,109 were returned, representing a 47.3% rate of return.