BTN Inks HBO Deal, Sets Sights on Live Play

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Fresh off a deal through which Home Box Office will distribute some of its content, Broadway Television Network will look to offer a live pay-per-view airing of a top play in May.

Though BTN president and CEO Bruce Brandwen would not disclose the name of the play, he said offering a live telecast will provide a major boost for both the company and the PPV event category.

The HBO Signature channel will distribute three of BTN's PPV events as part of a multi-year agreement, beginning Dec. 7 with Jekyll & Hyde: The Musical. Other BTN shows to air on HBO Signature include: Putting It Together, A Musical Review
on Jan. 4, and Smokey Joe's Café: The Songs of Leiber and Stoller, which will premiere in early 2003.

All of the shows will also eventually air on HBO in high-definition format, said officials at the premium service.

Brandwen said the HBO deal was part of the second phase of the network's plan to bring top Broadway plays to cable. After the HBO window expires, he said, BTN may look to broadcast or basic cable for additional distribution.

While the three shows only generated between 30,000 and 50,000 combined domestic and international buys, Brandwen said the numbers were strong enough to keep the company focused on bringing more Broadway fare to PPV.

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