B’way auds from all over

Tourists keep B.O. busy

Tourism remained a strong force in Broadway biz over the 2005-06 season — although it was receipts from New Yorkers and suburbanites that rose most noticeably during the frame.

According to a demographic report by the League of American Theaters & Producers, tourists bought 57% of the record 12 million tickets sold during the season. And it’s tourists who keep all those long-running tuners going, ringing in 63% of sales at shows that have run 16 months or longer.

With Broadway upping its global presence over the past several years — thanks in part to popular international incarnations of Rialto offerings such as “The Phantom of the Opera,” “The Lion King” and “Chicago,” not to mention recent pic adaptations — the international tourism biz also has surged back from its post-9/11 low.

Foreigners bought 1.32 million Rialto tickets during the 2005-06 season, up a bit from the prior season and on par with a pre-9/11 record hit during the 1999-2000 season.

Sales to U.S. tourists actually dropped a little (to 5.47 million), but local enthusiasm made up for it.

Purchases by residents of New York City (totaling 2.3 million) and its suburbs (2.9 million) were both higher than tallies posted in the 2004-05 season. Last season’s jam-packed theatrical slate provided more attractions than usual for Gothamites, who tend to check out a new production earlier than auds from farther afield.

The Internet proved the most popular method of purchasing tickets, with 32% of sales accomplished on the Web, 22% at the box office, 14% by phone and 14% at the TKTS discount booth. (Group sales, package deals and other ticket-buying methods make up the balance.)

The increasing ease of access to tickets, along with prevalent discount programs, has helped keep advance purchases down. Twenty-seven percent of theatergoers bought tickets on the day of the performance, the highest proportion in six years, while 32% bought tickets more than one month in advance, the lowest percentage since 2001.

In many cases, the trend toward last-minute sales makes it more difficult for producers to get a long-range sense of a show’s financial outlook.

Average age of the Rialto theatergoer stayed put at 42. The majority was female — down slightly from the previous season to 62% — and women continued to be cited as the main decisionmaking force in ticketbuying.

More than 75% of auds were Caucasian, but other racial groups were up about 6% from the previous year, with black auds rising by about 175,000 to approximately 610,000.

Theatergoers continued to be mostly wealthy (averaging a household income of just over $100,000) and college-educated — a whopping 76% of auds had degrees vs. 27% of the general U.S. population.

And many ticketbuyers are Broadway regulars: The season’s average theatergoer attended 4.6 plays a year.

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