How TV keeps audiences in their seats . . . could we?

I guess it was The Bachelor or The Bachelorette or one of those “non-scripted” (ahem!) reality shows that started it.

But it’s now a thing.

I’m talking about The Post-Show Show.  Come on, you know what I mean (I bet a ton of you even tune in).  You watch the episode of said television show.  And then, when it’s over, before the credits even roll, a 2nd show begins, which consists of people talking about the show you just saw.  Sometimes there are cast members, inside scoop, spoilers and more.  That’s The Post-Show Show.

And it’s now a big thing.

Because it’s not just the dating shows doing it anymore.

The Walking Dead has Talking Dead.  Monday night’s episode of Better Call Saul followed up with Talking Saul.  And one of the earliest Post-Show Shows was After The Catch (which shot the fishin’ boat captains from The Deadliest Catch talking about the ones that did and didn’t get away).

The idea of The P.S.S. was genius.

See, networks are like casinos.  They don’t want you to sit down for just one or two hands and then run off . . . maybe to another casino.  They want you to settle in and stay for the night.

So if a network is getting big, fat ratings with one show, what’s the best way to keep those viewers from picking up that remote?  Offer ’em “exclusive” content about that same show.  Sure, you’ll lose some viewers, but the avids will become even more rabid as a result.  (And let’s not even talk about how cheap it is to produce The P.S.S.)

Or, to put it in Deadliest Catch phraseology, if you’ve got ’em on the hook, dig the hook in deeper.

Obviously, the theater has a bit of a different model.  We’re not looking for them to sit around and see more ads.  We’re hoping that they get so excited about what they just saw that they tell their friends (which was one of the points in yesterday’s blog as well).

But the concept is correct . . . so what could Broadway or any theater anywhere do to keep their audiences engaged?

  • Forget “Tuesday Talkbacks” or random talkbacks only as a promotional tool.  Should a talkback happen after each and every performance?
  • Could you partner with a restaurant around the corner for a post-show “drink & discuss?”
  • What about delivering a post-show podcast via email as each theatergoer left the building that they could listen to on their way home with “secrets of the show?”

I’m sure you can come up with a whole bunch of better ideas.

And you should.  Because the moment the curtain comes down, you’ve got your audience on the hook.  And now it’s your job to prevent them from wrigglin’ away.  If you don’t, well, you can bet your bippy that there’s another show fishing for that same audience nearby.


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  • Kit says:

    Is this why we are now slapped with the “Related” section after each blog post?

    I see what you did there.


  • Carvanpool says:

    If you want to pay Union scale, go on, knock yourself out.

  • Dennis Kulchinsky says:

    Ken I’ve always thought seeing the cast at the stage door was part of the whole live performance experience.But if you want to add something to entice return business why not offer discounted coupons for a future performance.If the audience member enjoyed the show they may return for a second look or give them to a friend to attend.

  • Blake Conley says:

    A couple of thoughts:
    -tweet questions that get answered after the show in a talkback setting
    -Video! Video is so cheap now, why not pre-produce a “backstage” bit to play immediately after the show. This could be on personal devices or on a screen on stage. (it could also function as an intermezzo between show and talkback)
    -Another would be extra content – like dvd extras: Videos of rehearsal and staging of songs and dances that were originally cut from the show. Interviews with writer/director – anyone. Exclusive content. I would stay in my seat to watch that.

    • Joe says:

      This is a fantastic idea. You could even sell that DVD on the way back.

      • Blake Conley says:

        A key element is doing something that can be replicated at almost every show. I love a good talkback, however I don’t think I have ever chosen a show time based on the talkback. I go to the show when my schedule works. I’m pretty sure that how most people think as well. The goal is continued engagement to spur word of mouth referrals.

        You can’t have a talk back every show. You can’t ask actors to go out for drinks every night, and you don’t want to have to incur that labor cost either.

        Good idea about the DVD, Joe. The post-show video could function as an extended promo/preview for a making-of DVD.
        Take it one step further: Tweet/post something to get $4 off the DVD (or other merch for that matter)

  • Andrea Wilhelm says:

    This is what I’m trying to do! I love discussing shows after the show, and what I really want it to create a space for musical-book clubs, so that after seeing a show, folks get together and discuss the show (much like a book club, where after you read a book, you get together and discuss it). Thanks for the encouragement to continue with my idea 🙂

    • RICK says:

      …I love this idea…Could you partner with a restaurant around the corner for a post-show “drink & discuss?”….Oh and any time we can share on our tickers on our websites…is important!….Great ideas!!!…I love the “Not Reality” shows that people don’t hear the director say…Cut!!…Please don’t look at the cameras..then it won’t be reality…”Really”…”Seriously”…HA

  • Klay says:

    I think opening night would have the best product to sell as a pre-show show. One of the things I love the most about theater is the excitement and nervousness prior to curtain. Everyone has practiced and now they are ready for the bright lights. Can you capture that in interviews with the various directors, cast and crew? The after-show show is important too. It’s like the locker room after a sporting event. What happened that was unexpected and what did you do about it? Have audience analysis and check the laugh-o-meter for record belly bursters. There’s lots of potential here. It is particularly best suited for live streaming? Do you know anyone interested in a new source of revenue? (I say that sarcastically. 🙂

  • Wilhemina Paulin says:

    Yes indeed Ken. I agree. I kept them talking back and provided a great service which helped me sell more tickets for a musical I wrote and first produced back in 1987. Five organizations, including Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund bought (1988) an entire evening to my musical and used it for a fund raiser, Some of the organizations had talk backs after wards that continued in their newsletters and monthly meetings. One talk back included an internationally broadcasted radio interview. I’ve since updated this musical and sent Eric proof and info on this musical. I even offered full page ads in the playbill for each organization that purchased an entire evening. Indeed, I had “post show shows” the organizations hosted as a means to discuss the musical with the audience and actors, educate, and accelerate their fund raising goals for additional group sales. And now I’m open for production opportunities.

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