Exactly who goes to Broadway shows anyway? Survey says . . .

One of the perks of belonging to The Broadway League is the access you get to their annual study of the Broadway audience.  It’s an amazing analysis of the demographics of our ticket buyers as well as their purchasing habits.


One of the perks of reading The Producers Perspective is that I summarize the results for you here!


The actual study is a 56 page comprehensive document, so if you can get your hands on one, do.  Until then, here are the highlights as prepared by The League:


  • In the 2007-2008 season, approximately 65% of all Broadway tickets were purchased by tourists. 
  • International visitors accounted for 1.88 million tickets, down slightly from 1.91 million in the previous season.
  • 66% of the audiences were female.
  • Although the average age (41.5) was similar to the past few years, the 2007-2008 season saw the largest percentage (12.4%) of children and teenagers in the audience in the past 30 years.  This translated into a record-breaking 1.5 million admissions by young people.
  • 75% of all tickets were purchased by Caucasian theatregoers.  This proportion has actually decreased in the past ten years, as audiences have gotten more diverse.
  • Broadway theatregoers are a very well-educated group.  Of theatregoers over 25 years old, 75% hold a college degree and 36% hold a graduate degree.
  • Broadway theatregoers were also quite affluent compared to the general population, reporting an annual household income of $148,000.


  • The average Broadway theatregoer reported attending 4.4 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 39% of all tickets sold (3.65 million admissions).
  • Playgoers tended to be more frequent theatregoers than musical attendees.  The typical straight play attendee saw 8 shows in the past year; the musical attendee, four.
  • The Internet was by far the most popular way to buy Broadway tickets.  In fact, the reported use of the Internet to purchase tickets has grown by 471% since the 1999-2000 season (from 7% to 40%).
  • The growing use of the Internet has made it an effective vehicle for advertising.  10% of theatregoers said they had seen a web ad, compared to only 2% four years ago.
  • In the 2007-2008 seasons, theatregoers were more likely to purchase their tickets in advance than in the previous few years.  Same day purchases dropped from 27% in 2006 and 2007 to 20% in 2008.
  • Not only did women comprises 66% of the audiences, they were also the ones who decided to attend the show.
  • Word-of-mouth was the single strongest factor in deciding to purchase tickets to a show.
  • 27% of respondents reported that some type of critic’s review influenced their decision to see the show.
  • Newspaper reviews were more influential for playgoers than for musical attendees.  Theatregoers at musicals were more likely to cite television reviews than were those of straight plays.
  • 38% of respondents reported that some kind of advertisement encouraged them to buy their theatre tickets.  Television commercials and billboards were noted most frequently by musical attendees, whereas newspaper ads were the most effective prompt for playgoers.
  • 2/3 of respondents said that different performance times would not encourage them to attend more Broadway shows.
  • 37% of respondents said that they walked to the theatre.
  • Theatregoers reported paying an average of 27% more than the face value of a Broadway ticket, reflecting added service charges and/or broker fees.


Interesting stuff, isn’t it?  Just remember that data is only valuable if you do something with it.  I know I have a bunch of takeaway items from this list?  Do you?


Special thanks to the League for doing the heavy lifting on this survey and providing us all with this invaluable resource.

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Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.