How many people listen or watch stand up comedy in he US
Hello! Thanks for your question about how many people listen to or watch stand up comedy in the US. The short version is that while Facebook targeting data reveals 91 million people who may be interested in stand up comedy based on their profile histories, the actual amount of people who listen to or watch stand up comedy is likely less, given the way Facebook targeting compiles data (which I explain in further detail below), as well as the overlap in stand up comedy fans generally liking more than one comedian.
Based on current available data, I was able to estimate 25 million people went to live stand up comedy shows in 2015, at least 18 million watch some kind of streaming video of stand up comedy, and also found data that revealed the live stand up comedy business has an annual revenue of $300 million dollars. Additionally, I found that the number of people on Facebook who list stand up comedy as an interest is around 120,000, there are 16.2 million videos on Youtube listed as stand up comedy. Below you will find a deep dive of my findings.
In order to answer your question, I compiled all available data from market reports, media statistics, search data, and other relevant media sources. When there were no specific statistics available, I used back of the envelope calculations to garner a rough estimate of stand up viewers and listeners.
NUMBER OF ATTENDEES OF LIVE SHOWS
The most relevant statistic for this query is a survey on how many people visit comedy clubs or shows each year. It was revealed that in the first half of 2015, 16.1 million visited a comedy club, and in the second half 16.9 million visited a comedy club. From this data, we can estimate that the lowest amount of people that went to a comedy club would be 16.9 million (this would assume the same people going repeatedly) and the most people that attended a comedy club in a year was 33 million (this would assume no repeat visitors, and be a total of 16.1 and 16.9 million).
From this data, we can ascertain that the total amount of those who see a comedy show each year falls somewhere between 16.9-33 million. Given the mean of these two numbers, and if we assume that half are repeat customers and half are comedy fans who attend once, we can roughly estimate 25 million people attending a comedy show in 2015.
In addition to live shows, many stand up shows are viewed via streaming video, with the two most common being Netflix and Youtube. Data revealed that Netflix has nearly 100 million viewers, and that 18% of US Netflix viewers list comedy as their favorite genre. If we assume that this 18% at least watches one stand up show via their streaming Netflix service, we get an estimate of at least 18 million viewers.
However, this number could be much higher if viewers are binge watching comedy shows, as is noted to be common in younger audiences. Also relevant is that younger audiences were also slightly more likely to prefer comedy, with 19% of 18-24 year olds listing it as their favorite.
Youtube is also a popular medium for viewing standup, although the site often only lists partial episodes or clips due to copyright issues. A search on Youtube for "stand up comedy" reveals 16.2 million videos. The most popular channels listed under the topic stand up are Comedy Central which has 5 million fans, Gabriel Iglesia, with 2 million fans, and Jeff Dunham with 1 million fans.
However, given the way Youtube statistics are compiled, and that the average fan tends to like more than one comedian and watch multiple videos, it is impossible to note how many individual fans participate in Youtube viewing of stand up comedy each year.
In your request, you express concern that current statistics do not match up with Facebook targeting data, as well as the total fans given the top 50 comedians. I also researched this, and how Facebook targeting compiles data to give you an idea of where that discrepancy may lie, as I was able to find no supporting data of 91 million people watching stand up each year.
You note that "if you track the top 50 comedians, they have over 700 million followers". However, this number is assuming that each fan of a comedian is exclusive, whereas in reality, most fans will have liked multiple comedians.
An example of this might be, if you have two comedians, Aziz Ansari and Bo Burnham, and 250,000 like Aziz and 250,00 like Bo Burnham. While you might assume this means a total of 500,000 fans (250,000 + 250,000) , if 100,000 people liked both artists we would actually only have 400,000 total unique fans (150,00 who only like Aziz+150,00 who only like Bo +100,000 overlapping fans).
Additionally, Facebook targeting does not compile only those who are currently interested in something, but rather those who are likely to be interested- so this statistic of 91K likely includes those who have bookmarked or mentioned comedy shows, movies or other related topics- which you note you do not want included in your statistic.
Facebook also is noted to target based on both current and past interests of it’s users, which means someone who was interested in stand up comedy in 2005 may still come up in this search, even if they did not watch stand up at all in 2016. Thus Facebook's estimate is likely to be a bit larger due to compiling data long term, as well as including those who are interested in topics related to stand up or who have declared themselves fans of stand up in the past but haven't viewed a show in the past several years.
ADDITIONAL RELEVANT DATA
Stand-up is a large and expanding creator of revenue- it was noted that live stand up generates revenue of approximately $300 million a year. Netflix sees stand up as a way to generate subscriptions and will nearly their production of stand up specials this year.
So in summary, given current available data, we can estimate 25 million people went to live stand up comedy shows in 2015, and at least 18 million watch some kind of comedy on streaming video. Thanks for using Wonder! Please let us know if we can help with anything else!