Online Ticketing Increases as In-Theater Tickets Purchases Fall

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Tue, 03/12/2019 - 11:27 -- Nick Dager

Online ticket purchases increased by nearly nineteen percent last year while in theatre ticket purchasing dropped by more than five percent, according to a study released by Webedia Movies Pro and Vertigo Research.

Online purchases rose 18.7%; in theater ticket purchases fell 5.4%. The study also found a direct connection between online ticketing and other moviegoer behavior that benefit the bottom lines of movie exhibitors. The study found that online ticket buyers were more likely to:

Attend in groups

Buy concessions

Purchase premium seating that included a surcharge

Choose reserved seating 

Look past proximity, programming, showtimes in favor of amenities like premium experiences.

Online ticket buying has an impact on the theater chosen by the moviegoer. The standard factors like showtimes, the movies being shown, the proximity of the theater, and the ticket price saw minimal difference between online and offline ticket buyers. However, comfort, which would include the type of seating, and reserved seating became major factors when selecting a theater to online ticket buyers.

Nearly a third of online ticket shoppers (28%) said they picked the theater because of reserved seating, while only 7.6% of those who bought at the theater listed that as a reason. More than a third of moviegoers (38%) surveyed picked their theater because of comfort, compared to only 25.9% of offline buyers.

Another trend surrounding online ticketing behavior that the study showed was that on average in 2018, 36.8% of those online ticket buyers bought their tickets directly from the movie theater website or app, rather than a third party vendor but third party online ticketing vendors also gained momentum in 2018. The importance of theater websites or apps can also be understood by their increasing popularity as the destination show times: 72% of moviegoers who found the show times on the website completed their purchase on the same platform. It is also the top source for patrons purchasing their tickets at the theater as 30.9% used their theater's website to discover show times, a proportion increasing by 12.5% during 2018. Similarly, 30.7% of online buyers viewed show times on their local theater’s website, marking a yearly 8% increase.

While online ticketing increased in 2018, online ticketing accounts for only 24.9% of the entire market share pointing to a trajectory of further growth in the years to come as theater exhibitors across the country continue to improve on their customer facing online ticketing services, websites and apps.