Research predicts hesitant audience post pandemic

by | Mar 29, 2021

Are you longing for the end of this pandemic, when you will see the audience return to your arts and cultural events? If so, you may be in for a really unpleasant surprise. A new piece of market research indicates that your audience will be hesitant to re-engage with live arts once it’s legally allowed.

On behalf of TicketCo and Bergen International Festival, Rasmussen Nordic and Audiences Norway have conducted an international market research on digital art & culture experiences. It has gathered information from 58 different festivals within the market of classical music from America, US, France and Germany, along with a general look at the orchestras from the same countries. The report also includes compilations from three identical surveys sent to the registered audience of 21 different theatres, ballets, orchestras and arts museum in May, September and November last year. It gathered these two parts to provide an accurate and comprehensive insight.

One of the key findings in the report may be a rude awakening for organisers who are hoping for a quick return back to what used to be the normal once it’s legally allowed to gather big crowds again at events. When being asked under what conditions they will resume attending arts and cultural events, the average of 4,000 respondents gave significantly different answers at the early stage of the pandemic compared to September and November last year.

In May, an average of 58% answered that they would return to live events once legally allowed. This share then dropped to 34% in September and stayed more or less unchanged in November. The most reluctant group is those aged between 55 and 64, where an average of only 30% will return once legally allowed. While for those under 35, the corresponding average is 39%.

“This shows the importance of hybrid solutions,” said co-founder and CSO of TicketCo, Carl-Erik Michalsen Moberg. “The world post-COVID-19 will differ significantly from how it used to be pre the pandemic. There is no going back. The world has changed permanently, and the new normal will be hybrid events. Rather than mourning over what they have lost, organisers should now focus on the artistic and commercial possibilities within hybrid events.”

Mr Michalsen points to user friendliness as the key to succeed with digital or hybrid events.

“Organisers have had years to develop their physical user experiences, and within each artistic segment they have adapted their product to their different audience’s expectations. You will experience great deviation between the implementation of a rock’n roll concert and a classical concert, to mention just two examples.

“When it comes to digital events, there are more similarities. Regardless of artistic genre, the audience is dependent on the same tech and the same customer journey to attend. There is also competition, as this audience may very well choose Netflix or any other subscription based streaming service rather than your digital event. To compete in this contest, you will need a flawless user experience,” he said.

This is where the organisers focus should be now, according to the TicketCo CSO.

“As an organiser, you have no impact on when the pandemic will end or when you will be allowed to welcome your physical audience back. What you can control though, is your digital presence and your digital usability. That is why TicketCo and Bergen International Festival now have joint forces to further develop TicketCo Media Services into the best possible solution for hybrid events. This innovation project has just received funding from the Norwegian government through the national development bank Innovation Norway. Our goal is to have the finalised solution ready prior to the festival in the end of May, and it will then be available for everyone to utilise,” said Mr Michalsen.

Bergen International Festival has worked innovatively with new technology and digital distribution for several years. Still, the shift in circumstances with the arrival of Covid-19 has proved a tremendous accelerator for the festival’s digital strategy. 2020 saw an unprecedented investment in digital concerts, free of charge to the audience, that successfully reached large audiences nationally and internationally.

Bergen International Festival’s Head of Sales and Marketing, Ramona Horn said:

“We will continue to explore digital experiences in 2021, adopting a long-term view and incorporating digital tickets as part of our business model. We plan for various hybrid scenarios with fewer audiences present at the venues, however, with an unlimited audience digitally present via live stream or Video On Demand. The digital programme will not be a substitute for the “ordinary” festival, but a valuable and interesting addition. This year’s festival and the collaboration with TicketCo is a big step towards a long-lasting new business model and a welcome addition to our more traditional ticket revenues. The trend that emerged during the first wave of the pandemic, with a large supply of free digital cultural content, is in the long run detrimental to the industry. The willingness to pay among the public is present and this project provides opportunities for increased earnings with wider distribution, development of new offers and communication methods across different types of events and increased access for national and international audiences.”

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

Are you planning a digital event? Download the 72 page report with lots of valuable findings here.

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


The report recommends pricing of digital products based on existing insights and knowledge acquisition from the international market, in relation to similar digital products, target groups, digital packages and content.

Written by Tom Rasmussen

Chief Communication Officer at TicketCo. Experienced public relations adviser and strategic narrativ creator with a broad background as promotor, manager and producer from the arts and entertainment industry. Also background from publishing and public administration. Hibernating novelist and retired drummer.

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