£16! This is the golden price viewers are prepared to pay for digital events

by | Mar 31, 2021

A comprehensive Arts and Culture sector survey has provided a valuable insight into how much people are prepared to pay for a digital cultural experience.

As the entertainment industry prepares to adopt a hybrid strategy for events delivery, ‘Digital Programmes: interest, willingness to pay and customer journey’ has revealed audiences are willing to spend £16 for a single online experience, on average.

The survey prompted 12,000 responses from members of the public with 58 recognised festivals across the UK, Europe and USA also contributing to findings. It was commissioned to learn more about customers’ streaming habits in the past year where artists, theatres and sports clubs have been forced to hold events behind closed doors and deliver them via online broadcasting.

Researchers found despite the volume of free content available, there is a willingness for viewers to pay for quality digital content. The report learnt organisers have delivered events via two strategies – placing all content behind a paywall or mixing paid for content with freebies.

The report also highlighted how free content via social media should be delivered with caution and only made available if event organisers are going to gain something from it. It found that organisers who place free content behind a sign-up wall were more likely to reap financial reward from customers that engage with free content than those who watch events for free via YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or other social media platforms.

Succeeded with tickets between £16 and £40

At a time where Ireland was recording more than 6,500 COVID-19 cases per day, award winning theatre production company Landmark Productions delivered three digital performances of its critically acclaimed show The Approach.
The shows were watched globally by with viewers spending between £16 and £40 to tune in.

Hugh Farrell, Associate Producer for live streaming at Landmark Productions, said: “We invested a lot of time researching the live streaming model and working out the best way to bring exciting work safely to our audiences. Despite the pandemic reaching its peak during the week of The Approach our sales revealed there is a demand for digital theatre. We reached audiences we ordinarily would not be able to engage with by delivering shows in a theatre only.

“And people were willing to pay for this experience. In many examples, digital theatre is convenient to people leading busy lifestyles and those who may struggle to afford the associated costs that come with an evening at the theatre – childcare and transport for example. It’s challenging to develop the live theatre experience digitally, so most of our viewers were willing to spend £16 for a digital experience which we are encouraged by.”

To maximise revenue opportunities, the report confirmed too much free content will affect willingness to pay. The study reported that last year, the Oxford Lieder Festival sold more tickets with an all-virtual festival than in a normal year by strategically providing quality free content ahead of the festival’s launch.

Beating box office target by 20%

The organiser told researchers: “Every day, we uploaded clips from our concerts as a marketing technique – that was very useful. By engaging people on a global scale with snippets of free content, we beat our box office target by 20% and beat sales from 2019. We accept our digital audience will reduce when COVID concludes, but our customers are already requesting a hybrid approach of live and digital events in the future.”

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.

Audiences are prepared to pay a good price for a good event online

Kaare Bottolfsen, CEO at TicketCo Media Services, said: “The pandemic has proven that with the correct resource, structure and marketing tools, digital content can be used as a fresh revenue stream for event organisers to benefit from.

“The research has confirmed audiences are prepared to pay a good price for a good event online, which is reassuring news for organisers. As restrictions ease, a golden opportunity awaits organisers to monetise performances by delivering hybrid events, which can help accelerate the industry’s recovery.”

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 Greig Box Turnbull

Experienced communications and strategic PR advisor, with a strong background in journalism and public relations. Founder of Fortitude Communications, director of Oxford City ice hockey club and Vice Chair of Oxford United in the Community. A former Daily Mirror journalist and Oxford United FC managing director.

Get great things to your inbox


Follow Us

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This