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captive audience

Listeners or onlookers who have no choice but to attend. For example, It's a required course and, knowing he has a captive audience, the professor rambles on endlessly. This expression, first recorded in 1902, uses captive in the sense of “unable to escape.”
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Examples from the Web for captive audience
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  • As you can see, I dearly love a lecture—and a captive audience.

    This Crowded Earth Robert Bloch
  • Happiness lifted some of the gloom from his face as he realized that he had a captive audience who would listen to his troubles.

    Deathworld Harry Harrison
  • In exchange for his generosity he intended to get some information from his captive audience.

    The Ethical Engineer Henry Maxwell Dempsey
  • He thought sourly to himself: "I'm a captive audience without even an interest in the production tricks."

    Operation: Outer Space

    William Fitzgerald Jenkins

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