Digital Media Like Way to Promote Culture: The Royal Opera House

Executive summary

Access to art and culture has changed significantly due to digital developments and social media. The experience of watching an opera and ballet does not start like it was in the past going to the box office and purchasing that ticket. Due to social media engagement on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat, the performance experience for culture consumers nowadays, start from the rehearsal process up to the actual performance day which is broadcast or streamed live. These new digital advances have made performance accessible to everyone. The new digital landscape and current digital developments are creating new audiences towards the more traditional art forms; Opera and Ballet.

Arts organizations and renowned opera houses such as The Royal Opera House are embarking on these new digital trends successfully retaining their ‘old’ audience and attracting millennials towards the classical art forms. Engaging with these arts organizations on social media really changed how the cultural consumer is engaging with performances away from opera houses. Digital content is now accessible for everyone and thus it is transforming how the consumer is interacting with art. The purpose of this analysis is to see how audiences are interacting with Opera and Ballet performances through digital means and how the Royal Opera house is executing this successfully.

The study is consisted of how arts organizations are influenced by their external environment and how the Royal Opera houses are adapting to these challenges and changes. The analysis is collected from a variety of resources such as government reports, Royal Opera House annual data, and industry research reports. The conclusion drawn from this analysis is that in the present, the arts organization would benefit from expanding their technologies and their digital leadership. Due to these advancements’ consumer behaviour is drastically changing and innovations in digital marketing are the way forward for arts organizations to thrive in this everchanging market. This report identifies categories of interaction with cultural and artistic content in digital environments: Instagram, You Tube, Twitter, Snapchat, and Facebook, and how the predominance of social media is changing the way consumers interact and engage with Opera and Ballet. The purpose of this report is to argue that by exploiting you have via digital means will bring opera and ballet to the greatest possible amount of people.

Several recommendations are made to justify this change in consumer behavior and the need to focus on a much younger audience so that through digital means, art forms that are considered old will be more appealing to the younger generation.

1. Introduction

The renowned Royal Opera House is an iconic landmark in central London founded back in 1946, then known as the Covent Garden Opera company, it produces more than 500 performances every year and it is visited by thousands of people from and outside the UK. Along the years, it has hosted stellar Opera and ballet Extraordinaires on its stage and for decades it has kept up its impeccable reputation for producing the world’s best opera and ballet productions. Its mission is to enrich people’s lives and human emotions through opera and ballet performances. Opera and Ballet have always been regarded as an art form which is too posh, too elitist, and too expensive and has attracted the same audience throughout the years i.e. the white and the elite.

The challenge for the Royal Opera House is to retain their loyal customers and to lure in new millennials to their opera house. They must adapt to the new digital landscape and current digital developments to increase the artform’s appeal. The major Royal Opera house refurbishment called the Open-up project has cost £45 Million to reimagine the visitor experience for the 21st century. Over the past decade, the organization has spent significant time refurbishing its digital content and audience engagement with the outcome that online tickets now surpass 80% and its website and excess of social media platforms are full of engaging content revealing live backstage footage and offering opera and ballet fans a chance to get closer to both performers and their performances.

The purpose of this report is to account for how digital media content and marketing is increasing audiences and retaining customers for the Royal Opera House and how this change is impacting the organization's current marketing activities. In the inquiry of these matters, the findings include in the environment in which the arts organization is working in.

The report is divided into the findings sections, what is the Royal Opera House and how its is engaging in the digital market and whether it’s doing it successfully and the impact it is having on its audience. The external environment in which the arts organization operates. And the recommendations section, which justifies and suggests the way forward in the marketing segment.

2. Findings

As an art form opera and ballet, especially dance was always categorized into a specific market, targeted to specific customers. Tickets have always been relatively high and still are. The artform sold out well with what is called the culture buffs customers. Usually, this audience is well settled in the community and occupies professional positions, thus making it possible for these consumers to afford an expensive opera ticket. However, this all changed due to the digital revolution where engaging in artistic content via a digital device has made opera and ballet accessible to everyone. Breaking down culture barriers and adapting to digital trends wasn’t an easy transition, especially for opera houses which are considered as traditional and conforming. Digital technologies have not just influenced how the internal environment of the organization works but had to also adapt to the rapid changes in the external environment. Opera and Ballet have now left its traditional setting and moved on to a digital platform.

In times of political and economical uncertainty due to Brexit, it is the arts and culture segment that suffers most when it comes to funding cuts. Thus, The Royal Opera is always at an advantage compared to its main competitors like the English National Opera as mainly they rely on their private investors. Despite the political and economical uncertainty where funding cuts are being made to the arts The Royal Opera House, due to their extensive investment in digital marketing has had the second most successful box office in the past ten years. The Royal Opera has heavily invested in audience design programs called audience labs to identify and create customers profile of the opera house attendees. They are very active on a day-to-day basis on all social media platforms including Facebook, YouTube, snapchat, and Instagram.

Considered as a traditional company, the Royal Opera house has successfully achieved 95% of occupancy, attracting 670,500 attendees. This success is due to the constant investment and new initiatives regarding audience development schemes as mentioned in the previous paragraph. The opera house is really adapting well to e-marketing models, social media, digital channels, and digital revolutions. So, what has contributed to this success? Considered as a digital leader, the ROH has been experimenting with streaming partnerships, other ways of engaging viewers, including virtual reality. The foyer is designed with projections on the wall promoting new and upcoming productions. The space is designed for the audience to engage with screen installations on the walls showing rehearsals in progress. The purpose of the open up project, hence named open up is intended to invite everyone into the new digital space, where audiences upon entering the building will experience digital displays and wall installations of past performances and rehearsals in progress. Below, is one of the installations of the open up project.

Other digital media that have contributed to the audience engagement increase is immersive experiences with 360VCR for The Nutcracker has enabled audiences to experience the rehearsal process on stage, generating a third-person narrative. In addition, social media engagement continues to grow, and it is the most subscribed arts organization in the world on YouTube with 78.9+ million minutes of footage watched. The ROH audience engagement on social media is rapidly growing especially on Instagram with a following of 407,000. This means that most of their followers on social media is aged 25-34 years of age. Below is a diagram showing the age groups of people who are heavily engaged on Instagram.

The ROH is constantly updating daily their Instagram page with live footage from shows, backstage access, and daily preparations. Daily they post exciting content on all their social media channels, mostly on Instagram where they have the majority if followers. They keep their engagement with their audience by means of screening of their productions via their cinema festivals, so this gives their audiences who do not live nearby their theatre, to have the chance to watch rehearsals clips from their past and current shows. The Royal Opera House has gained the status of a digital leader in the Opera and Ballet world by exploiting current digital means. They work extensively on giving facts about their shows, their artists, and the art forms on all their social media channels simultaneously. This success has contributed to their continued success and reaching new audiences.

With regards to this success due to their investment in digital marketing, The Royal Opera house has sold a total of 706,200 tickets for seats in the theatre for both opera and ballet in 2015-6, and only slightly more seats (767,800) in cinemas for live screenings. As the New York Times stated, it sells 39% of its tickets to those aged 40 or younger. Besides, having success by having audiences fill up their opera house, the ROH has taken this further by also giving their audience the possibility to watch a live performance on YouTube from the comfort of their own home. The audience can review events and leave their feedback on the website by ‘your reaction’ content, where people give emojis to their reaction after watching an ROH performance and live tweets their reviews by tagging the ROH. This enhances the buzz around performance and the chances for people to share this content is higher. The ROH has also tailored its social content by segmenting audiences. From their audience labs, they have identified eight or nine audiences characterized by their social personality types. The audience was identified as; ‘Newcomer’, an audience member who is experiencing their first Opera and Ballet Performance, and ‘Ballet Buff’ an audience which is a frequent theatre-goer and willing to spend a relatively high price on a ticket.

With the ambition of reaching international audiences, the ROH tailors its digital content geographically, by translating it into native languages.

3. External Environment

Although the status of the art form will always be an important influence on performing arts venues’ fortunes, external factors such as public funding cuts in the arts before/after Brexit and the level to which the economic retrieval allows sustained growth in spending will be the crucial factors of the market’s longer-term shape.

The Royal Opera House is a National Portfolio Organization, supported by public funding via the Arts Council England, and is a registered charity. After Brexit, contraction in public funding is inevitable. With £6.6 million being invested into marketing, the ROH must find alternative ways to thrive without this EU funding and do not let limited access to EU markets affect their investments in technology.

The strategy that the ROH will now adapt to amidst this turbulent environment is to ensure that the partnerships they have with their resources and technology will not be affected by this change. This change could also result in positive outcomes, by having the access to wider markets, and by creating more digital content reaching audiences outside the EU. After all, art is a cultural merge.

The ROH is determined and certain that they are at the most creative when they embrace the changes that are happening on the outside. So, this is the time for the ROH to really reach outside their metropolitan bubble and engage to a more diverse audience by means of technology.

The impact of Brexit on the ROH is going to be much more outward-looking and much more global facing, rather than working within the European Union, which means that it will not be culturally and economically constricting. By opening more to global markets outside the EU via their social media, the ROH will now reach to consumers, who perhaps felt ignored by this establishment.

Economically, the ROH is optimistic and hopeful that funding will not be affected due to its trust in its patrons, generous trustees, and foundations.

4. SWOT Analysis

Identifying the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats helps the ROH to identify its artistic vision.


  • The ROH is a digital leader on social media and the activity grows each year.
  • Their website is visually pleasing, including backstage tours, rehearsal videos, meet the artist's videos, and is high in content.
  • Virtual reality experience on the website and social media platforms
  • Recognized as a brand worldwide
  • They have the capability to invest millions on their marketing due to investments coming from trustees and private companies
  • The ROH is an advocate to change the perception of Opera for younger generations.


  • Lacking in multi-cultural content needs to reach more audiences outside the UK, mostly in Asia.
  • The ROH has no mobile-app
  • Lack of outside advertisements
  • Website is a bit overwhelming with content and could be discouraging to those not tech-savvy


  • Due to their resources and audience labs they have an advantage over their competitors to really get to know their consumer behavior
  • Emphasis on social media that ROH target audiences uses
  • Capture younger and new audiences
  • ROH's creative team constantly growing due to their focus on campaigns to reach millennials making them more social, interactive, and entertaining


  • Lack of audiences, means lack of money if they don’t make Opera and Ballet socially engaging enough on social media
  • Content needs to be adjusted according to the consumer's lifestyle

5. Conclusions and Recommendations

What has contributed to the Royal Opera House's success on their social media is that their younger audience really enjoys visually demonstrating and sharing their experiences of attending an Opera and Ballet online with their peers. This is making the genre more enjoyable, by easily sharing content and visuals.

  • Media platforms should always be portable, hence the importance why the ROH should now introduce a mobile app. This will make it easier for viewers what they want to replay and see.
  • Having successfully engaged to a much younger audience, campaigns for Opera must appeal to different audiences; dramatic and humorous. Digital campaigns must enable its audience to feel joy, laughter and drama.
  • Campaigns will be built around on how millennials consume and socialize media.
  • Interactive experiences on other platforms such as Netflix should also be introduced as this new concept is on the rise and the sense of curiosity will attract new audiences.
  • After the success of the 360 experience via virtual reality of the Nutcracker the ROH should invest more in virtual spheres to make the experience of a performance more thrilling.
  • Access to digital learning through opera and ballet should be introduced to schools to get students interested at a very young age to engage with these art forms.
  • We are really seeing that the most popular way for audiences to engage in Opera is ‘immersive theatre’, which means a production is amplified and realistically appealing to a more non-traditional audience.
  • The ROH must continue to build their social media as user interaction friendly, so to break the stigma that Opera and Ballet aren’t seen as unapproachable art forms.
  • Make sure our target audience is exposed to Opera in day-to-day life through our social media platforms. Be aware that our audience has busy lives, and the Opera and Ballet experience needs to be accessible all the time.
  • In line with the popularity on Instagram and YouTube, marketing tactics should be mainly focused around the use of social media.
  • Investment in technology should be mainly focused on ancillary technologies that support identified audience characteristics
  • The target customer base should be 20-30 age, with some importance on young males
  • Effective digital marketing that ensures loyal customers will return to the ROH
  • Look into which Operas and Ballets create more demand online
  • Identify who the audience is online to increase memberships and donations
  • Keep up to date with digital practices, new media and technologies
  • Increase the domination of screens worldwide
  • Increase digital projects
  • Introduce video tutorials online on Opera and Ballet with different languages
  • Introduce a program where the consumers can consume content and produce it.
  • More interactive content for the visually or hearing-impaired

In conclusion, The Royal Opera house's goal is to exploit all their digital media possibilities to alter the perception of the classical art forms. Proving to its audience old and new that opera and ballet can to be exciting and interactive. This innovative engagement has changed consumer behavior and the way people used to react to opera and ballet. The ROH will continually develop the relationship between their consumers and their newfound perception of Opera. Digital media has brought a new meaning to the whole artistic experience and while one might argue that the direct contact with the artist is lost, interactive media has made opera and ballet accessible to everyone. More than ever consumers are engaged in artistic practice online and thus is it can eliminate once and for all the crisis of live performance. Innovation brought about by digital media has enabled the consumer to have direct contact with art on the internet.

6. References

07 July 2022
Your Email

By clicking “Send”, you agree to our Terms of service and  Privacy statement. We will occasionally send you account related emails.

close thanks-icon

Your essay sample has been sent.

Order now
Still can’t find what you need?

Order custom paper and save your time
for priority classes!

Order paper now