BTN to Offer Jekyll on PPV


Broadway Television Network will distribute the now-closed Broadway play Jekyll & Hyde
on pay-per-view in March.

The play, which debuts March 10, is the second Broadway PPV production for BTN, which distributed a videotaped performance of Smokey Joe's Café: The Songs of Leiber and Stoller
last September. Jekyll & Hyde, though somewhat successful on Broadway, ended its four-year run on Jan. 7.

BTN founder and CEO Bruce Brandwen said the company chose Jekyll & Hyde
because of its broad appeal and because it featured a well-known performer, Baywatch
star David Hasselhoff.

BTN had planned to distribute a live performance, but Brandwen said the show's unexpected closing forced the company to offer a taped version for PPV. The show closed after Hasselhoff decided to end his run as the lead character.

"We would have liked to have offered the show live, but offering it on a taped basis is certainly better than not being able to offer the event at all," he said.

Unlike Smokey Joe's Café, which retailed for a suggested $24.95, Jekyll & Hyde
will cost consumers $19.95, Brandwen said. "We're going to try different price points to see which works well with each show."

Brandwen hopes Jekyll & Hyde
will improve on the performance of Smokey Joe's Café, which generated upwards of 50,000 buys. While that buy-rate doesn't rival those for PPV wrestling or boxing events, operators carrying the play were generally happy with the results. They believe the event was successful in broadening the PPV viewership base.

"I'm hopeful that we'll always do better than the time before," Brandwen said. "Over time, we hope that people will come to understand and appreciate the tremendous opportunity to watch Broadway shows on television through PPV."

In Demand executives said the event would help diversify the industry's PPV event schedule.

"We continue to support Broadway Television Network on PPV and we are pleased that they continue to show improvement on the play and star appeal with Jekyll & Hyde
in March," said In Demand senior vice president of programming and development Dan York.

As part of the promotional effort for the event, BTN will build a marketing campaign around Hasselhoff.

"Unlike [Smokey Joe's Café], where we did heavy marketing on golden oldies radio stations, we now have a quality recognizable star that we can promote around," Brandwen said.

But the company will not offer a half-hour pre-event show for Jekyll & Hyde. "We're not going to do a 30-minute show because the majority of cable systems did not run it in the clear" for Smokey Joe's, he said.

Although Jekyll & Hyde
won't air for another two months, BTN has already scheduled its next event. The company will offer Putting It Together, featuring Carol Burnett and Bronson Pinchot.