The Broadway League has released data for the 2022-2023 Broadway season, the first full season since the COVID-19 shutdown. Between May 23, 2022, and May 21, 2023, Broadway welcomed 12,283,399 million theatregoers and took in $1,577,586,897 in grosses.
The promising numbers are both comparable to pre-pandemic totals, if still falling short. In the 2018-2019 season, the most recent to be unaffected by COVID-19, the season saw attendance of 14,768,254 and cumulative grosses of $1,829,312,140. This season's figures reflect a drop of 16.83% for attendance and 13.76% for grosses from those totals, drops that are surprisingly small given the level of impact COVID-19 had on the industry. They're also, unsurprisingly, a giant leap from last season's numbers, which did not even crack $1 billion in grosses and saw attendance under seven million thanks to an incomplete season that was still suffering a large amount of performance cancellations.
This most recent set of data may even be more encouraging in light of a reduction in "playing weeks" compared to the 2018-2019 season. The League counts playing weeks as the overall number of weeks of performances logged by each production, making it a measure of the amount of productions and the length of their runs over the season. The 2018-2019 season saw 1,737 playing weeks with 38 new productions opening, while the 2022-2023 season had 1,474 playing weeks and 40 new productions. That's a reduction of 15.14% in playing weeks, showing that productions struggled to run as long as they did pre-pandemic. That figure roughly matches the drops in attendance and grosses from the 2018-2019 season, indicating that these new numbers are more or less commensurate to pre-pandemic numbers, within the context of the amount of performances theatregoers were able to attend.
The new figures put the prospects of returning to or even exceeding 2018-2019's numbers very high, possibly as soon as this current season.
“Broadway is making a strong rebound as audiences are returning to New York City to experience extraordinary live theatre,” says Broadway League President Charlotte St. Martin. “The 2022-2023 season numbers indicate an upward trajectory with 12.3 million attendances and nearly $1.6 billion in grosses. Broadway continues to present robust and diverse productions ranging from beloved classics to groundbreaking debuts, attracting an array of audiences who are keeping the Theatre District bustling with excitement.”
The health of Broadway became front and center as the fate of the Tony Awards was uncertain in recent weeks due to a dispute between the Writers Guild of America and Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers over streaming royalties and other issues. A resulting strike of WGA members initially appeared to have made a Tony Awards TV broadcast impossible, which industry insiders feared could be especially damaging to a still-fragile Broadway—productions depend on the international spotlight and airtime to encourage ticket sales. A last-minute plan to go ahead with a fully unscripted broadcast saved the day, with the big night still set for June 11 at United Palace in Washington Heights.
For a full breakdown of this season's numbers along with data from the last five seasons on Broadway, visit BroadwayLeague.com.