The difference between Broadway and Off-Broadway: An analogy.

A reader recently asked me the simple but not so simple question about the difference between Broadway and Off-Broadway shows

I started to compose a textbook-like response about how Broadway shows were in theaters that have more than 499 seats, yadda yadda yadda…

Then I deleted it and decided to come up with some modern comparison . . . and here’s what I’ve got:

Broadway shows are like the major networks:  NBC, ABC, and yep, even funky Fox.  Mainstream, easy to find, commercially minded.

Off-Broadway shows are like the cable channels.  They are further up the dial, a little off the beaten path, more nichey, some more artsy, some more raunchy, and definitely not as viewed.

Cable has flourished over the past several years, as they’ve crushed their major league competition in developing new content (Mad Men, etc.).

Could Off-Broadway’s day be coming?

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Comments
  • Aaron Diehl says:

    I think Off-Broadway’s day could be coming- but I don’t think it will come without a large combined effort from the off-broadway community… could make for some very interesting marketing studies.

  • Gil says:

    The analogy is interesting, but you’re missing one thing: shows move from Off-Broadway to Broadway all the time, but it’s rare for a show that’s a hit on Bravo or SyFy to transfer over to prime time NBC. Even when NBC owns the network being transferred from. And sometimes the economy of a show is dependent on it not really making money unless it does transfer.
    But you know what, the recent thing that happened with Avenue Q moving off-Broadway? That may be the first example in recent memory of “syndication rights”.

  • Jen says:

    Hi Ken,
    I see you attended the Notebook Musical workshop. How was it?
    Thanks

  • Rich McMahon says:

    Hi Ken,
    Good analogy, here’s another: Broadway/Off-Broadway = Beer/Ale ….Made me think of yesteryear’s NY Yankees’ Ballantine Ale Slogan: “Bolder, Keener, More to the Point.” (Might also work with Single Malt Scotch!)
    And I think Off-Broadway’s day could indeed be coming. Analogy here might be to increasingly targeted direct marketing made possible by the Internet: low production cost, highly specific shows, precisely targeted to pre-researched interested audiences and available at low(er) ticket price points. Food for thought, anyway.

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