BTN Puts 'Together' Third PPV Musical

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Continuing its effort to carve out a pay-per-view niche for "The Great White Way," Broadway Television Network on Oct. 14 will distribute a taped performance of the limited-run show Putting It All Together: A Musical Review.

The show, written by composer/lyricist Steven Sondheim and starring Broadway and television star Carol Burnett, will sell for a suggested $19.95, said BTN CEO Bruce Brandwen. In Demand, TVN Entertainment, DirecTV Inc. and Dish Network will distribute the event.

The show is the third event for BTN, whose chairman is former USA Networks Inc. chief Kay Koplovitz. BTN has succeeded where others have failed in obtaining PPV rights to Broadway by structuring long-term collective-bargaining agreements with Broadway unions, including the Actors' Equity Association.

The distributor also struck alliances with the four biggest New York theater operators: The Shubert Organization, The Nederlander Organization, Jujamcyn Theatres and SFX Entertainment Inc.

But thus far, BTN's PPV results have been mixed. Neither Smokey Joe's Café: The Songs of Leiber and Stoller,
presented in 2000, or Jekyll & Hyde, which aired last March, reached the 100,000 buy mark domestically.

But industry executives said BTN has been successful in expanding the PPV user base beyond young, male sports and wrestling fans.

Domestic PPV buys are only part of the overall exhibition revenue package, which also includes international PPV sales and exhibition of the shows in high-definition, digitally enhanced theatres around the country, Brandwen added.

"PPV comprises a major [revenue] element, but is the first window of the exhibition of our shows," Brandwen said. "We're looking forward to offering the show to Carol Burnett fans, to theatre fans and to television viewers."

In Demand senior vice president of programming and development Dan York said BTN's shows have helped expand the PPV category.

"It's important to continue to broaden the base of content offerings and to deliver new and different types of programming, including Broadway and comedy shows," York said. "It's also important to deliver new audiences to the category, including families."

Unlike the first two shows, Putting It Together
will be marketed online. Brandwen said the company will tap the electronic-mail address lists of theatres and conservatories across the country.

BTN is also sanguine that Burnett will participate in a satellite promotional tour in an effort to get the word out about the PPV show.

Brandwen also hopes to secure some additional marketing support from operators in the form of cross-channel spots. New PPV genres such as Broadway plays require greater marketing efforts on the part of local systems, he said.