Study | Trends in Audience Behavior: Digital Performances in their Infancy


As COVID-19 took hold of the country in March, arts organizations immediately took to the internet. Recordings of recently shut down performances were put on Vimeo or YouTube and made available—for a limited time—to ticket buyers.

Following the initial shut-down, transitioning to online performances and events proved riddled with obstacles. But by late summer 2020, many organizations had a few digital performances under their belts and ambitious plans afoot to launch the 2020–21 season online.

Immediately upon this shift online, our curiosity at JCA Arts Marketing was piqued. Our questions were numerous:

  • Who is the audience for digital performances?
  • What is the potential for audience development through digital performances?
  • What is the potential for revenue from digital performances? Is this a sustainable revenue stream?
  • How does ticket-purchasing behavior differ for digital audiences compared to in-person audiences?

And so, we launched this study on digital audience behavior using data form organizations who were early to foray into streamed online performances. Our hope is that it gives you insights as to how to engage and grow your audience in this new world of digital performances.

  • With 43% of the audience being new, digital performances have great potential for audience development.
  • Digital audience members who had previously attended in-person are some of the organization’s most loyal patrons—and they pay a higher digital ticket price.
  • Digital performances have larger reach, and revenue potential, when they’re available over multiple dates.
  • Audiences for digital performances book their tickets closer to the performance date than in-person audiences.
  • 10% of digital audiences add a donation on top of the ticket price—most added donations were $10 or less.