New report outlines habits of London theatergoers
West End auds go to the theater more frequently — and in a more equal distribution of age ranges — than Broadway ticketbuyers, according to stats released in a new study of West End theatergoers from the Society of London Theater.The figures, gathered through surveys distributed during the second half of 2008, indicate that West End auds made an average 6.4 visits per year to the theater, vs. the 4.2 average in the Broadway League’s demographic report for the 2008-09 Rialto season. London research also found Brit auds almost equally divided across the range of ages. Broadway, on the other hand, has long skewed older, with almost 63% of theatergoers falling into the over-35 bracket (60% of whom are 50 or over). The higher theatergoing frequency of West End auds seems easy to explain, since London ticket prices tend to be lower than New York pricetags, a fact largely attributable to the lower costs associated with producing in London vs. Broadway. A definite reason for the discrepancy in age-range distribution is more difficult to pinpoint, although many legiters anecdotally believe that theatergoing is more of a cultural habit for Brits than it is for Americans. Reality TV skeins based on legit productions, far more common in Blighty than Stateside, made 47% of London theatergoers more likely to buy a ticket to the individual show featured on the small screen, and 37% of respondents more likely to go to the West End in general. Broadway, on the other hand, hasn’t gotten the same boost from reality TV, since the trend never quite took off after casting skeins for “Grease” and “Legally Blonde” aired in 2006 and 2008, respectively. Unsurprisingly, the percentage of West End theatergoers who bought tickets over the Internet jumped from 17% in 2003 to 48%. That jibes with the similar prominence of online outlets among Main Stem ticketbuyers, almost 40% of whom purchased ducats over the Web in 2008-09. The 2008 calendar year logged West End attendance of 13.9 million and total sales of £483,679,423 ($717 million), which rose to 14.3 million theatergoers and $748 million in 2009. Broadway totals for the 2008-09 season were 12.15 million in attendance and $943 million at the box office.