Broadway’s reliance on tourist trade increases – report

Kinky Boots. Photo: Matthew Murphy
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International visitors comprised approximately 22.5% of Broadway admissions during the 2012/13 season, the highest percentage in recorded history.

This translated to 2.6 million tickets, another record high.

These are some of the findings in The Broadway League’s annual demographic report which compares current theatergoing habits to previous seasons and aids in predicting trends for the future.

Of that 22.5%, 2.4% reported they came from the UK, 3% from Central or South America, 2.1% from Australia/New Zealand, 2.1% from Asia, the Middle East or India, 0.9% from France and 6% from Canada. A further 5.3% came from other areas in Europe, while 6.1% said they came from other countries.

During this period 26.6% of international tourists saw Broadway musicals as opposed to 6.7% who saw straight plays. Autumn was the most popular time for foreign tourists to visit Broadway and evenings were the preferred time to see a show. Long-running shows were also more popular with international visitors than newer works.

Other findings in the survey include:

  • 11.6 million people saw a Broadway show in 2012/13, a slight decrease from the past few years. However the number of international tourists visiting New York City has been rising over the past three years, reaching 11 million in 2012.
  • 67.9% of the Broadway audiences were female and 53% of female respondents said they made the purchasing decision to see a particular show, as opposed to 48% of male respondents. 26% of males said their spouse chose the show to see, while only 10% of female respondents said their spouse made that decision.
  • During the 2012/13 season, theatregoers reported paying $97.20 per ticket, with international tourists paying $103.60 per ticket on average, as compared to $100.10 for domestic tourists, and $87.60 for New Yorkers.
  • The average age of the Broadway attendee was 42.5 years old, slightly younger than the past few seasons. The season also attracted the highest percentage of theatregoers aged 18 to 24 (14% or 1.6 million admissions) in the history of this analysis. The average age of international visitors was 36, compared to 44 for US residents.
  •  The season showed a continued growth in the Broadway Hispanic audience to 8%, representing approximately 880,000 admissions. This represents an increase from two years ago of 2%, or 170,000 theatregoers. The largest ethnic group on Broadway continues to be Caucasian, that total being 78% during the 2012/13 season.
  • Playgoers tended to be more frequent theatregoers than musical attendees. The typical play attendee saw seven shows in the past year; the musical attendee, three. The average age of the musical attendee was 41, compared to 49 for the average playgoer.
  • Word-of-mouth was the most influential factor in show selection.
  • 41% of respondents said they purchased their tickets online.

The Broadway League’s report is based on extensive survey data gleaned from audience questionnaires distributed throughout the 2012/13 Broadway season in New York City.