Look, it’s a Playbill on your phone!

When I started attending Broadway shows in my mid-teens, I purposefully got to the theater early so I could devour the Playbill.  I read every word of every bio, read every name on the staff page, and tried to figure out what the people did to get listed in the Special Thanks (a little secret – on all of my shows, I list my parents in the special thanks).

And when I finished reading each one, I always wished there were more.

Now, thanks to the brand new Playbill app announced on Monday, there will be.

And this ain’t no ordinary app.

Get this . . . thanks to a partnership with digital development company Broadway Voice (founded by Broadway Producer Ken Mahoney), the app will know what theater you’re in, and when you’re in it, so it’ll push relevant content to you about your experience (and most certainly a “the show is about to begin, please turn off your phone now” message).  And when you’re inside the theater, a quick scan of your Playbill cover will unlock all sorts of premium content that would make the 16-year-old kid in me all tingly, including video content, enhanced profiles on the actors and creative teams (none of those “you can only have 30 words” restrictions online!) and a bunch more.

Pretty cool, right?  iPhoners can get it here.  Android users have to wait a bit (it’s coming in 2016).

This announcement did have me wondering a couple things:

First . . . with all this enhanced content, will shows sell fewer souvenir programs?  Those souvenir books are a big revenue stream for shows.  Or does Playbill have a paid version of a digital souvenir book in mind that people could “unlock” through this app?

Second . . . is this the first step toward an all-digital Playbill?  Could the environmental activists get their way and could we be on our way to a paperless Broadway theater?

Maybe.  But not anytime soon.

Just like direct mail will never go out of style, there is something very valuable about holding something in your hand.  That yellow logo has more gold in it than you think.  They are souvenirs in themselves, and I don’t think they’re going anywhere.

Besides, if they did disappear, what would the 16-year-old Ken Davenport have to frame . . . Or what would 11-year-old Daisy Eagan sign when 19-year-old Ken Davenport asked her for her autograph?  #Awkward

Read about the app and forget what I just said by clicking here.

 

(Got a comment? I love ‘em, so comment below! Email Subscribers, click here then scroll down to say what’s on your mind!)

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Comments
  • Carvanpool says:

    Oh my, the playbill app may reduce souvenir book sales. You mean it’s a problem when technology hurts your income? It’s never a problem when it causes reduced income for unions, is it?

    Poor hippocritical baby!!

  • Joanna White says:

    Did you know Charles Slucki? He died suddenly this week in LA – a one-time mentor of mine in Melbourne, Australia. He introduced me to your blog way back, for which I am eternally grateful. He ran a business called Theatrica, hosting groups from Australia to NY and LA to get musical-ed out. He even took a copy of my musical “The Color Pink” to show you, but maybe wasn’t able to see you.
    Charles was a highly-regarded school teacher, lauded and missed.

  • Erci Roux says:

    Tested this out last night actually. Was quite surprised to find that it does not list the full company – only principals and it omits the vast majority of the Production Credits. Think there will be a plan to get full credits on the app (and perhaps bios – not just credits)? You can access those details via the Playbill Vault on the shows. Surprised that no one (that I’ve seen) has said anything about this omission. Isn’t it similar treatment to when the NY Times removed Production Credits from reviews? Playbill covered that topic quite publicly, but doesn’t credit those individual with this app at present. Hope to see that upgrade in the future.
    -E

  • Eric Roux says:

    Tested this out last night actually. Was quite surprised to find that it does not list the full company – only principals and it omits the vast majority of the Production Credits. Think there will be a plan to get full credits on the app (and perhaps bios – not just credits)? You can access those details via the Playbill Vault on the shows. Surprised that no one (that I’ve seen) has said anything about this omission. Isn’t it similar treatment to when the NY Times removed Production Credits from reviews? Playbill covered that topic quite publicly, but doesn’t credit those individual with this app at present. Hope to see that upgrade in the future.
    -E

  • Dennis Kulchinsky says:

    Hi Ken
    I too love the paper Playbill and have kept all of them and framed some.The downside of this new app is it gives some in the audience more reasons to open their phones during the performance.I sat in a theater not long ago and the two people next to me looked at their phones the entire show.

  • Walt Frasier says:

    Brilliant. I hate real playbills. Where do I put it during the show? I get sweaty and the playbill gets ruined. I love to read it cover to cover, and if I am late I finish at intermission, over my new sippy cup of wine you can bring to your seat…. my how times are changing.

    I think many keep their playbill, but many do not. So this APP will soon replace the waste of printed playbills altogether.

    And this will generate more profits. Once set up, how much will be saved on printing?

    I imagine that print adds can be switched for interactive links to actual area restaurant and retail landing pages. Perhaps, it can make after show reservations for you. The digital world offers so many options. New advertisers will flock to the platform.

    This will in fact increase sales of premium programs. Those that want something to collect and get signed by stars will step up. How many don’t buy the program because they have the free playbill.

    Only thing the app needs now? Instead of warning message to turn off at curtain, the app actually turns off the phone.

    What’s next? AMC First look videos at the theater?

  • clark says:

    Great idea..however I do like a real playbill and I do like having my playbill signed

  • Stacy says:

    I view these pretty much the same way I view ebooks… they make perfect sense and they’re totally handy, but I’ll always prefer “the real thing”.

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