Major event industry research reveals ticket buyers’ appetite to pay for online content

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Digital shows delivered behind an online paywall perform stronger than free content. This is one of numerous insights discovered in a comprehensive Arts and Culture sector survey that just has been released.

58 recognised festivals in the UK, Europe and the USA took part prompting 12,000 answers from members of the public to contribute to the in-depth research entitled ‘Digital Programmes: interest, willingness to pay and customer journey’.

Researchers found 35- to 54-year-olds are more likely to be willing to pay more for live stream performances than any other age group. While young people are less likely to support live stream performances due to a lack of interest in digital art programmes and a pre-existing high volume of daily screen time.

The report found there is a willingness to pay an average of £16 for a virtual ticket to an online cultural experience. It also found there is an increased demand for pre-recorded events online which can be viewed via on-demand platforms.

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The research was commissioned jointly by Bergen International Festival and TicketCo Media Services and conducted by Audience Norway and Rasmussen Nordic. The data was collected via three surveys across last year.

The report found despite free content being widely available online, events placed behind a paywall sold more tickets in 2020 than in previous years. It also revealed 84 per cent of the festivals surveyed broadcast content for free online in exchange for viewers donating a sum they considered suitable for the show they watched. The report highlighted the experience of the Oxford Lieder Festival, which increased its audience by 20 per cent by making content accessible to a fresh, global, audience.

It also reported ticket buyers were motivated to buy virtual tickets to support organisers, share experiences and discover new artists. The survey found 54% of participants prefer live streamed content, for a more authentic experience and sense of community. While 55- to 75-year-olds were found to prefer on-demand content. Overall, the report concluded digital content is set to become a permanent solution for viewers beyond the pandemic.

Soren Rasmussen, Managing Director of Rasmussen Nordic, said: “The study delved deep into the Arts and Culture sector resulting in numerous insights that can help organisers strengthen their digital content and become financially stronger. It is clear there is a significant demand for live, high quality digital events, and by learning from the experiences of organisers and audiences we can help fuel further innovation.”

Kaare Bottolfsen, CEO at TicketCo Media Services, said: “This research provides valuable insights for event organisers as they continue to navigate the pandemic and a seismic shift to delivering shows online. The key finding organisers can take from it is ticket buyers are prepared to pay for quality and unique online content and there is a huge demand for it. The report points towards a strong hybrid future for the events industry where organisers provide physical and virtual access to performances.”

TicketCo Media Services is an integrated cloud-based event payment, live streaming, and on-demand platform for the events industry. It has offices in Norway, UK, Sweden, and the Netherlands.

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