The 2012-2013 Broadway Season Nearly Equaled 2011-2012’s Record-Setting Gross, But Ticket Prices Continue to Rise

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Every year The Broadway League releases figures regarding the demographics of Broadway attendance, and though the stats don’t usually fluctuate greatly from year to year there is always some interesting information to glean from the annual reports. Today The Broadway League released figures for the 2012-2013 season, which is mostly good news all around, except that everyone is paying more for tickets.

It’s no secret that a significant amount of Broadway’s business is because of tourism, but the 2012-2013 season attracted the largest amount of foreign tourists in the history of the study (this year’s study is the sixteenth year this data has been collected), amounting for nearly 23% of tickets sold. In fact, two-thirds of the Broadway tickets sold during the season were sold to tourists, amounting to five million tickets, which is up from 63% from the previous season.

Another large portion of ticket sales is due to devoted fans who see 15 or more performances a year. Though this past season that group only made up 5% of the audience, it collectively accounted for 31%, or 3.6 million, of all tickets sold.

Perhaps the best news regarding the demographics of the 2013-2014 season is that Broadway also attracted the largest number of theatergoers age 18-24 (14%, or 1.6 million admissions) in the history of the study along with slightly over one million attendees under 18. This brought down the average of attendees to 42.5. Why is that such good news? Producers hope that if patrons get the “Broadway bug” while they’re young they will turn into lifelong fans.

As in past years, Caucasians make up a majority of the audience (78%), though 8% of the audience was Hispanic, a much higher figure than 2% just two years ago. Women countinue to outnumber men in the audience (68% of attendees are female), and a record 41% of audience members said that they purchased their tickets online.

That brings me to the bad news, which goes unmentioned in The Broadway League’s press release (big surprise). While the 2012-2013 gross nearly tied the 2011-2012 season’s record setting gross, ($1.1387 billion vs. $1.1393 billion the season before), attendance was down to 11.57 million, the lowest figure since the 2004-2005 season. Part of that had to do with the fact that the amount of performances dipped to 1,430 playing weeks, the lowest number since the 1996-1997 season. Much of that can be blamed on the performances cancelled by Hurricane Sandy in October 2012. So with those two factors how did the gross nearly match last year’s? Increased ticket prices, unfortunately. The average paid admission reached $98.42, with the average price for a ticket to a musical topping $100 (at $102.45) for the first time.

Barring any other major meteorological disaster (or a high number of box office disasters, too), 2013-2014 is poised to break the gross records of 2011-2012 now that ticket prices are just under $100. The real question will be whether attendance will also rise, or if Broadway reached its attendance peak of 12.53 million admissions in 2010-2011.

You could check out the rest of the statistics at the Broadway League.

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