For TV, it’s all in the “time-ing” . . . could that work for Broadway?
When American Idol hit the airwaves way back when, they crushed the competition. No other show that was trying to get traction on competitive networks was put in the same “time slot.”
Makes sense, right? If your competition is at the exact same time as you are, avoid that time at all costs.
I was reminded of this TV programming phenomenon last Sunday evening, as I was able to watch (ok, DVR) Game of Thrones at 9pm and the Mad Men season finale at 10pm. Coincidence? I think not. Smart TV Executives know when to challenge their competition and when to get the eff out of the way.
And they also know when to hitch a ride with hit shows by putting new stuff right after (imagine getting a coveted post-Seinfeld spot in the 90s).
But what do we do?
All of our shows . . . are at 8pm.
Ok, that’s not entirely true. We’ve got a few shows at 7pm. And some at 2pm and some at 3pm. And some do a Sunday night instead of a Monday.
But for the most part? They all conflict.
Wicked is up against Hand to God is up against Clinton The Musical.
Guess which one wins when a customer has only one choice?
Now, Broadway and Off Broadway shows are at 8pm-ish for many reasons . . .
- Leaves adequate time for dinner before.
- Lets out at a reasonable time.
- They can be long.
. . . and we’ve spent fifty years branding these times. But I can’t help but think what would happen if we took a clue from our TV brethren and programmed around some of our competition . . . especially for those newer or smaller shows just starting out.
I’ve had some success with this, especially around holidays. I often look and see what other Broadway shows are doing for their holiday schedule . . . and if everyone is off on Thanksgiving? I do a show. There are usually plenty of people looking to see a show that night, and with my competition out of the way, I win. The Sunday night/Monday night performance is similar.
But could we get more drastic?
Wicked itself is going against the grain this summer with several Friday performances at 2pm. If it works, expect many other shows to follow, just like they did when Tuesdays at 7pm started a decade ago.
And I’m predicting a few more alternative times from shows in the next year or so. Why?
Well, take a look at yesterday’s blog about the end-of-season results. See that stat about how there were more shows on the boards than ever before? That means the competition for customers is that much more intense.
And if you can’t crush your competition, you have to go around them.
And different, TV-like performance-time programming might be a way to do just that.
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