Predicting The Tony Awards . . . where’s Gallup when you need them?

Every May, the new Broadway shows battle it out for our big awards and the big bucks that come with them.

In my head, it’s like a big Broadway cage match.
Throw 10-15 shows in a ring and watch them go at it.  The big bullies pull out all the stops and instead of throwing chairs at their opponents, they throw television ads.  Others fight with print, or with direct mailed scripts and CDs to voters.  Some stand by the ropes, waiting for others to get knocked out early, before jumping into the fray.
Millions of dollars are spent on media in May, and it ain’t no secret that one of the primary goals of this media push is directed at the voters in attempt to keep the shows ‘top of mind’ (another reason why Spring shows that are still running have a leg up on the closed Fall shows:  Springers still have ad budgets to get themselves in front of nominators and voters).
When you’re a spectactor, it can be fun to watch (on Thursday, I tweeted that I saw 5 commercials for different Broadways in less than 60 minutes, on the same channel).  When you’re inside the cage, it can be downright scary, as a wrong move can send you to the canvas prematurely.
Fates can be sealed, tours can be launched, and shows can recoup based on what happens in the four weeks leading up to June 7th.
It reminds me of the month before a big election.
During every election, there are always a zillion polls, led by companies like Gallup, or TV networks, who  call up registered voters, and find out who they are planning on voting for on the big day.
Imagine if there was the equivalent of a Gallup for Broadway.  If an “independent research group” could survey a group of Tony Voters (each show knows exactly who they are) and find out what the voting trends were, a show could, just like a political candidate, change its camaign tactics accordingly.  If a show was so far out of the running that no amount of votes would help, a great deal of money could be saved.  If a show was neck and neck with another, but was trending lower in a certain block of voters, a different strategy could be established.
Unethical?  If it’s OK for the most important office on the planet, then I think it’s OK for Broadway.  Would the Tony Voters cooperate?  I bet you could find enough of a sample that would (I never expect people to talk to Michael Riedel, but they always do ).  Too small of a sample since there are only 800 voters, and there are always 30-40% at least that don’t even see the shows?  There would be a margin of error, that’s for sure, but something is better than nothing.
If I could pick only one pet peeve in this biz, it would be this:  we spend too much money without enough information.
It’s your job as a Producer to find whatever way you can to gather information that helps you make better decisions . . . so when the final bell rings, you can be one left standing, holding the belt.
  • Joseph says:

    I am co-owner of a market research company named ERm that specializes in Broadway research. We work all the time and are very excited about what we do. Looking forward to the day when we can be doing Gallup type polls.

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