Survey: 66% online audiences viewed new art form in lockdown

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Marquee TV, the performing arts streaming service offering opera, dance, theatre, and music on demand service, has partnered with Indigo, the experts in audience insight for the cultural sector, to research attitudes towards cultural content offered online and what audiences are looking for in a post-Covid world.

The two companies have unveiled their findings to reveal that digital will continue to pave the way for the future of the arts, even with live performances returning.

The research was gathered through a survey of 1,000 Marquee TV users conducted by Indigo in March 2021, which covered audience attitude to consuming online cultural content through Marquee TV and more broadly. These findings were then contextualised and supplemented by data from Indigo’s ongoing programme of cultural audience sentiment tracking during Covid-19. This research includes responses from over 275,000 audience members gathered through 450 cultural organisations by Indigo from April to July 2020, and a further 50,000 responses gathered by 100 cultural organisations on an ongoing basis since October 2020 by Indigo and partners Baker Richards and One Further.

Audiences want to return to live events, but have missed culture and many have engaged with culture digitally for the first time

In the response to live events, 94 per cent of respondents missed attending live events with 74 per cent wanting to get back to the buzz of a live event, and 67 per cent wanting to see performers up close. When it came to engaging with digital performing arts content, 60 per cent said they have engaged with the digital content since March 2020 with nearly two-thirds reporting they were new to viewing this type of content digitally.

Although many audiences were new to digital performing arts content, 64 per cent reported that the experience was better or much better than expected and ranked the artistic quality 4.6/5 on Marquee TV.

Audiences are willing to pay for digital content

In regards to the cost of content, 64 per cent expected to pay for it, 75 per cent paid over $14, and 10 per cent paid over $42 for access. Looking ahead to the attitudes toward digital arts content in a post-Covid world, 70 per cent of the overall audience said they would continue to watch, and 90 per cent of Marquee TV subscribers said they would continue to engage with cultural content both online and in person in future.

Katy Raines, Co-Founder and Partner of Indigo, said: “Over the last year, we have heard from thousands of audience members through our extensive audience research programme, many of whom have tried online cultural content for the first time during Covid-19. What has become clear is that the majority of audience members, although desperate to return to live in-person experiences, also want to continue viewing cultural content online beyond the pandemic. The range of high quality digital content now available, particularly on platforms like Marquee TV, has enabled audiences to unlock new art forms and engage with companies they have never seen in-person. It is essential that cultural organisations seize this opportunity and continue to develop their digital offering alongside in-person experiences. This integrated programme could well be the key to successfully developing audiences and achieving a new global reach.”

Global audiences have an appetite for digital cultural content

The survey results showed that global audiences should be key to performing arts organisations’ strategies. Over 50 per cent of the respondents in the survey lived too far away to attend the shows in person – so if they are ever to engage with an arts organisation it would need to be digitally. From results specific to Marquee TV partnerships, 88 per cent of ticket buyers for New York City Ballet’s George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker came from outside New York City and 65 per cent of viewers for London Philharmonic Orchestra concerts were from outside the UK. With this in mind, digital access to shows helps to bring new audiences to performing arts organisations that would not have been accessible otherwise.

New audiences are discovering the performing arts through digital

A digital platform assists arts organisations with cultivating new audiences who are just now discovering the performing arts online. The last year has seen new audiences across a wide range of demographics engaging with digital content in ways they have never before – and this trend is set to continue. According to the survey, 62 per cent of respondents have engaged with a new art form digitally that they have never seen live.

Over half of Marquee respondents watched a performance by a performer or company they’d never seen live, and many even watched an art form digitally that they’d never experienced live – with Contemporary Dance (28 per cent), Ballet (27 per cent) and Opera (22 per cent) gaining the highest percentages of ‘new to art form’ watchers. Young audiences are engaging even more. 52 per cent of respondents aged 20-24 were more interested in visiting the venue in person after watching it digitally.

Arts organisations should plan for digital/physical hybrid seasons

Audiences are excited at the prospect of being able to engage with cultural content both online and in-person in the future. Hybrid seasons will be an opportunity to monetise content beyond just live events.

As reported in the survey, 90 per cent of respondents plan to continue to engage with and pay for culture online as well as in-person and 63 per cent of respondents are as interested or more interested in visiting the cultural venue they engaged with in-person in the future. Findings from Marquee TV’s partnerships conclude that 70 per cent of ticket buyers for Marquee TV pay-per-view events were new to the arts organisation’s database. Digital also engages a larger audience than just a live event would be able to accommodate. For example, there are 5,000 average views for London Philharmonic Orchestra concerts on Marquee TV which is twice the capacity of the Royal Festival Hall.

Simon Walker, CEO of Marquee TV said: “We’re thrilled to present this brand new, proprietary audience research which gives the very latest insights into how consumers are thinking and feeling about the much-longed-for re-openings ahead. This research highlights huge opportunities for smart arts organisations to focus on in the weeks and months ahead.”


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