Broadway is Back: 5 Insights into the Returning Show-Goers

Written by
Fifty Team

Insights by
Josh Tompkins

15 Oct, 2021

A year and a half after closing its doors, the curtains were finally lifted on Broadway and theatres reopened to the public in September 2021. But which audiences are returning? And how do these new show-goers differ from the pre-COVID broadway audience?

To answer these questions, Fifty looked into the groups of people posting and sharing content around Broadway and its most notable shows. We did this both for the two-month period leading up to the pandemic and for the last month since Broadway reopened in September 2021.

Below are the five key findings from our comparison:

1. The core audience hasn’t changed

There are two ever-present segments within the Broadway audience: Cultured New Yorkers and Millennial Creatives. Together, these segments made up 50.3% of the Pre-COVID audience and 54.1% of the Post-COVID audience, respectively. Evidently, these young, cultured, creative types couldn’t wait to get back to theatres and, after an eighteen-month hiatus, Broadway’s reliance on these key segments has only increased.

2. Younger audiences are more willing to return

Millennials and Gen Zers indexed much more highly Post-COVID than Pre-COVID, with audiences like Millennial Creatives and Trendy Gen Zers seemingly very keen to return to Broadway. Meanwhile, older tribes of Gen Xers and Boomers had a smaller presence within the Post-COVID audience, suggesting they will require more convincing before they return in their full swathes.

3. Less travelling across the country (and the world…)

Due to ongoing restrictions on international travel, fewer tickets are being sold to tourists, who accounted for a significant proportion of the pre-pandemic broadway audience. Similarly, we can also see a dip in engagement from audiences outside of NYC and across the US as a whole. Pre-COVID we saw a strong influence from audiences based in Philly, Chicago and Indiana, but post-COVID these same audiences play a negligible role, indicating that there is a reluctance to travel domestically, as well as internationally.

4. People are hungry for live entertainment

Evidently, there is a somewhat symbiotic relationship between the various forms of live entertainment that are all collectively benefiting from the same people wanting to return to venues as soon as possible. In fact, fans of other forms of live entertainment, namely Sports and Comedy, indexed just as highly in our Post-COVID audience as in our Pre-COVID audience, which demonstrates that there remains a clear appetite for live entertainment in general.

5. Cultured audiences remain hesitant

Interestingly, fans of other cultural pursuits outside of the theatre proved less willing to return to venues. Fans of literature, poetry, travel, fashion and food had a much stronger presence in our pre-COVID audience, revealing a general hesitancy about returning to live venues in the aftermath of the pandemic. It is clear that, in order to restore audience confidence and reinvigorate the wider theatre community, marketers will need to focus first on reassuring and building trust with these hesitant groups.

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