Broadway: the engine that fuels New York City’s economy


Broadway is a big thing. Really big company. The latest statistics show that Broadway attendance reached 14.77 million in the 2018-2019 season and the season grossed $1.83 billion. Overall, Broadway contributes $14.7 billion to the New York City economy on top of ticket sales and supports 96,900 local jobs. Broadway is so prolific that attendance for the 2018-2019 season exceeded that of the ten professional NYC Metro-area sports teams combined (Mets, Yankees, Rangers, Islanders, Knicks, Liberty, Giants, Jets, Devils, and Nets).

According to Charlotte St. Martin, president of The Broadway League, they are unlikely to get the same number of visitors this year as they did in 2019. “We are currently between 85-88% of 2019 numbers,” she says. “But we continue to grow the audience and maintain the number we get, so we are confident that we will have a similar number of visitors again by 2025 or 2026. International travel was between 14 and 20% of our footfall, and international travel to New York City continues to lag behind. Domestic travel is larger than expected and makes up for some, but not all, of the difference. NYC & Company is optimistic about the future and we are closely tied to the tourism numbers.”

Broadway bursts at the seams with excitement. From lavish musicals to mesmerizing dramas, the bright lights of Broadway offer something for everyone. Broadway patrons will be treated to a plethora of new shows this year, including highly anticipated openings like A dollhouse and Peeled. Currently on stage and collecting critical acclaim Funny girl, Six and lots of other great shows.

St. Martin says, “We have a host of new shows that have already opened and many more are on the way. Our season starts at the end of May and ends at the end of April. The year so far we have opened 22 new shows and currently we have opened 16 new shows through April 29th. However, that number will grow as we recently announced two shows. The average number of shows that open each year depends on how many long-running shows go on, how many theaters are closed for renovations. The average number of shows to be opened per year is between 35 and 42.”

While the average age of a Broadway theatergoer is 42, that number is on a declining trend. St. Martin explains: “The average age of our theatergoers has dropped thanks to programs such as Kids’ Night on Broadway, now in its 25th year, Broadway Bridges, and numerous programs aimed at younger audiences run by our League. members. Plus, the change in the number of shows relevant to younger audiences continues to grow. On Broadway, there’s something for everyone. There’s no question that when Disney came to Broadway in 1995, they brought in a younger audience and then it became clear that families were welcome in Times Square and Broadway, more shows followed.

In 1998, the first season of The Broadway League, did a Demographics Report, they found that 9.5% of their audience was under the age of 18, which equates to 1.09 million children. In 2017-2018, 15.3% were under the age of 18, representing 2.11 million children. In 2019, it was 12% under the age of 18, representing 1.77 million children. In 1998 the 18-24 age group represented 10.4% of the audience with 1.19 million visitors and in 2018 the 18-24 age group represented this age group with 12.9% representing 1.78 million visitors. In 2019, the same age group accounted for 12% and 1.77 million visitors. The combined age groups accounted for 2.28 million visitors under the age of 25 in 1998 and 3.88 million in 2018 and 3.42 million in 2019.

“You can see that we’ve lowered the average age of attendees in these years,” says St. Martin. “Sure, year over year it mirrors the Broadway shows, but overall we’re making great progress. And with the addition of new shows like & Juliet and Bad Cinderella added to the successful shows like Wicked, Hamilton, The Lion King, Alladinand others, we will continue to make progress.”

Iconic shows like Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera have made Broadway a “must see” attraction for the vast majority of visitors to New York City. Broadway’s Phantom has been seen by 19.8 million people and will celebrate its 35th anniversary on January 26, 2023. lines around the block from The Majestic Theater. In response to exceptional demand, production is now being extended to April 16, 2023. This is the only extension possible.

A Broadway experience is like no other. While dramatic plays can be mesmerizing, it’s the musicals that draw the largest audiences. The lights dim and the orchestra begins the overture. It’s a goosebumps moment for the audience. Once someone attends their first Broadway show, they’re usually hooked. In fact, Broadway attracts repeat customers and 61% of the audience attends at least two shows per season. The average Broadway theatergoer attends four shows. Thanks to Broadway’s powerful engine, New York City is getting a vital economic boost like no other city in the world.



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