Who is the Broadway Touring Audience? The 2011-12 Report Revealed!

Almost two decades ago, the Broadway League began tracking the demographics of the touring audience for Broadway shows, understanding that the audience on the road is a feeder audience for Broadway.

It is/was true for you, right?

If you don’t live in or close to NYC, and you’re a Broadway fan, odds are you see shows at your local Civic Center or PAC, am I right?  That’s what I used to do (shout out to the Colonial Theater and the Wang Center in Beantown!).

Touring shows are gateway drugs to the bright lights of Broadway.  Additionally, since touring shows can be more profitable than Broadway shows, it’s important for us Producers to understand just who out there is buying the tickets, how they buy them . . . and why.

Enter The League and their biennial report on the Touring Audience Demographics!  And the latest report, for the 2011-2012 season (which featured almost 13 million admissions in almost 300 theaters across our great theatrical nation) was just released last week.

You can get the full report here directly from The League, but I’m going to summarize their summary for you.

Here are the key points from the 2011-12 Touring Broadway Demographic Study:

  • 12.7 million total attendees is the lowest reported attendance since 2004-05.  (NOTE FROM KEN:  GULP!)
  • 70% of touring show attendees were female.
  • The average age of the Touring Broadway theatregoer was 50.5 years.  (NOTE FROM KEN:  This is older than the NYC audience)
  • 89% of the Touring Broadway theatregoers were Caucasian.  (NOTE FROM KEN:  This is whiter than the NYC audience.)
  • 78% of the audience held a college degree and 30% held a graduate degree.
  • 46% of national theatregoers reported an annual household income of more than $100k, compared to only 21% of Americans overall.
  • 31% of respondents were subscribers to the “Broadway Series” at their local venue.
  • On average, Touring Broadway attendees saw 4 shows per year.
  • When looking for information about the show, the majority of audiences looked to the theatre’s website.
  • The most commonly cited source for show selection were:  the music, personal recommendation, articles about the show, having previously seen the show, and its inclusion in the season subscription
  • Respondents reported the Tony Awards to be more influential this season than in previous seasons.  21% of respondents said that Tony Awards or nominations were a reason they attended the show, compared to 8% in the 2005-06 season.
  • Only 17% of respondents said that an advertisement influenced them to see a show and 14% said they were influenced by a newspaper critic’s review.
  • 65% 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.
  • 40% of respondents said different performance times would encourage them to attend Touring Broadway more frequently.
  • 47% of Touring Broadway theatregoers used the Internet to purchase their tickets, the highest percentage yet.
  • Advance sales to single-ticket buyers has increased in comparison to the early 2000’s.
  • 34% of respondents said they made a visit to NYC in the past year.  Of those 82% attended a Broadway show while in town. (NOTE FROM KEN:  This number should be 90% or more IMHO, so we’ve got work to do.)
  • 75% of respondents said they would prefer to receive theatre information electronically, rather than postal mail.

Well, what do you think?  Is the Touring Audience what you expected it to be?  Do you fit in the above group?

If you’re interested, click here to see a summary of the latest report on the Broadway demographic audience and you can see how the two stack up side by side.

Lots of interesting stuff in the report, as always.  Of course, the most concerning stat is the drop in attendance since almost ten years ago.  And, significantly, the past three years have seen a decrease each year.

Why?  Is it because the subscription audience is waning?  Is it because there’s too much competition out there?  Is it because there aren’t enough new blockbusters out there to drive admissions?

Sure, yep, and true that.

But those aren’t the only reasons.  And because the Touring Market is such a necessary component of the Broadway Business Model, especially for musicals, we better find out.  And fast.  Because no one wants to see a fourth year of decline for the next report.

What do you think the issue is?


(Got a comment? I love ‘em, so comment below! Email Subscribers, click here then scroll down to say what’s on your mind!)

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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.