Media Release | Trends in Audience Behavior: Subscription Sales

February 02, 2023

JCA Arts Marketing, a division of JCA that helps arts and cultural organizations leverage data-driven insights to grow audiences and revenue, recently released a new study on Trends in Audience Behavior: Subscription Sales.

Many arts organizations have seen a steep decrease in subscription sales after reopening from the pandemic shutdown. JCA Arts Marketing undertook this study to gain a more thorough understanding of subscriber decline, and—more importantly—to gather insights from the data to help arts organizations address the issue.

Data for the Subscription Sales Study was gathered from 28 major organizations in different regions of the U.S., including 12 Music Organizations, 11 Theatre Companies and five Opera Companies. The analysis compares subscription sales for 2022-23 (FY 2023) to past seasons in 2021-22 (FY 2022) and 2018-19 (FY 2019).

Key findings include:

  • Subscriptions sales are down overall.
  • Theatre companies have the steepest decline in subscription sales across the disciplines included in the study, but are also leading the field in innovation. Theatres have rolled out new, flexible packages in higher numbers than other organizations.
  • While subscriber representation is decreasing, the percentage of single ticket sales is increasing. An opportunity here might be to reallocate marketing budget from subscription acquisition to new audience acquisition and retention.
  • Preferred days of the week have not changed since the pandemic. Just like pre-pandemic, Saturday and Sunday remain the most popular days for subscribers to attend performances.
  • Flexible subscription packages perform better than Fixed Subscription packages. Subscription packages that offer flexibility (Choose Your Own, Ticket Credits, Passes/Memberships) are growing, whereas Fixed package sales are shrinking.

“While the data in this study may not be immediately encourage for organizations with subscription programs,” said Jamie Alexander, Director of JCA Arts Marketing and co-author of the study, “we encourage organizations to view subscription decline as an opportunity. There are many advantages to the subscription model, but there are also many disadvantages. Let’s take the data as inspiration to move forward and innovate in this new world.”

The full study can be found here.

JCA (Jacobson Consulting Applications, Inc.) is the first and foremost independent consulting firm dedicated solely to the technical and operational needs of nonprofits. Our mission is to enhance the core information systems and processes at nonprofit organizations and arts and cultural venues. We elevate our clients’ information acumen, allowing them to make data-driven decisions to increase revenue, optimize operations, and build lasting relationships with their target audiences. The combination of deep expertise, the resources to deliver a complete solution, and the vision to innovate, makes JCA exceptional. Learn more at jcainc.com.

JCA Arts Marketing, a division of JCA, uses data-driven insights to help cultural institutions increase revenue, boost attendance, and grow patron value. Institutions served include museums, dance companies, opera companies, performing arts centers, symphonies, and theatres. Learn more at jcainc.com/arts-marketing.