Ops Pleased with Broadway Debut

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Although final pay-per-view buy-rate numbers aren't in, Broadway Television Network's Sept. 10 event received glowing reviews from operators and industry executives.

BTN's taped PPV presentation of the Broadway musicalSmokey Joe's Café: The Songs of Leiber and Stollerwas successful in broadening the PPV viewership base, operators said-even if many traditional PPV buyers didn't tune in.

National PPV-buy rates were not available by press time, but several operators compared the performance ofSmokey Joe's Caféto another niche-oriented PPV event, the 199125thAnniversary Gala At the Metopera show, which generated around 50,000 buys.

Cox Cable of San Diego senior product manager Marty Youngman said the event performed well, but would not give specific buy figures. While Broadway-based events won't generate PPV boxing or wrestling numbers, he added, such fare could bring in new customers and expand PPV event-programming choices.

In Demand executives were also pleased with the event.

"Smokey Joe'sperformed within our expectations and was a successful launch of the Broadway genre to PPV," In Demand senior vice president of programming development and event acquisition Dan York said. "We're seeing that saying that systems that promoted the event experienced better buy-rates and systems that partnered with the local theater community."

BTN founder and CEO Bruce Brandwen said operators gave positive feedback about the show's look and quality. He said they also seemed pleased with the event's performance, despite the fact it went head-to-head against the Emmy Awards on broadcast television.

Even if the show doesn't draw significant buy-rates, Brandwen said BTN will continue to distribute Broadway shows via PPV, and expects to offer a second play sometime in first-quarter 2001.

He would not say whether the next event would be a current Broadway show, or if the telecast would be live or via videotape.

"We have a long-term business plan. It's not modeled on the performance of one or two shows," Brandwen said. "From a PPV perspective, the continuity of product is important, and you have to keep coming back with it."

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