April 1, 2014

Perils of Competition: Broadway vs. Sleep No More Part 2

In our last post we described competitive markets like Broadway as red oceans and non-competitive markets like Sleep No More as blue oceans. In this post we’re going to show you how to construct your own blue ocean. Our end product will be a graph of the value curves so you can see a visual comparison of Broadway and Sleep No More.

The basic concept is to build a 4 x 4 matrix where you document what aspects of the current offering (Broadway) you’d like to eliminate, reduce, raise and create in order to create a new product for a new audience. It’s easy to do this after you've created the production and found an audience. You can also assemble a value curve as a forward looking exercise. In order to do so you'd have to do ethnographic interviews of potential patrons and by run experiments to validate your assumptions about what they’re looking to purchase. These are all things we’ll cover in future posts but for the time being let’s jump back into our Broadway, Sleep No More example.

  1. Stars - stars are expensive, they’re available for a limited time which require recasting and you often need expensive ad campaigns to publicize their presence in the show. In a worst-case scenario the stars become the show and grosses tank when they leave. Take a look at The Producers for a prime example of that.
  2. Dialogue - forget stars, we don’t even need spoken word. The non-linear story format doesn’t call for it and not having a writer’s royalty to pay must be pretty sweet.
  3. Theater - renting a club space in Chelsea probably isn’t that much cheaper than renting a Broadway theater. It does however give you the ability to control the monetization of the show aside from ticket sales. I’d wager that a lot of Broadway producers would take the food & drink revenue from a performance of Sleep No More over their own net box office receipts for the same performance.
  1. Ticket Prices - a ticket to Sleep No More is $80. While you can get cheaper tickets to some Broadway shows you can’t get tickets that cheap to the hottest Broadway shows. Additionally, your view of a Broadway show is closely correlated with how much you paid for your tickets while seeing the coolest aspects of Sleep No More is more of a meritocracy: if you do your research ahead of time you can figure out where to go when to get the fullest experience possible.
  2. Stigma - Sleep No More is just cooler. I do admit that Book of Mormon is cool but your mom wants to see Book of Mormon. It’s like how Williamsburg was cool until your mom wanted to retire there.
  1. Physical Production - your musicals set might be cool but it’s nowhere near as cool as a multi-story set that you can walk through.
  1. Club Like Atmosphere - it’s more than a show, it’s an event. Sleep No More doesn’t even openly acknowledge that it’s based on Macbeth.
  2. Variable Start Time - on weeknights there are 5 different times you can enter Sleep No More and on weekends there are two performances and 10 different start times. It’s not a big deal if dinner ran late or you needed to send just one last email at the office. The variable start time ensures you can get in without missing anything. This more closely reflects how people live today.
  3. Non-Linear Story - most of the content we consume these days is non-linear. Websites that people live on such as Instagram are non-linear storytelling mediums. Sleep No More takes this and applies it to theater.
  4. Immersiveness - my best friend aptly described Sleep No More as a “live video game.” Perfectly suited for a guy (or gal) who grew up playing videogames. A Broadway show on the other hand is more akin to seeing a movie performed in front of you. Perfectly suited for the traditional Broadway audience who grew up on movies.

And now, drum roll please...our value curve of Broadway & Sleep No More: test

The graph is a visualization of how Sleep No More provides drastically different value than a Broadway show. This enables them to grab a new audience that they don't have to compete for.Using some crafty ethnographic interviews and experiments you too can find your company’s blue ocean. Sign up for our email list to learn how!


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Form was created to bring a scalable, repeatable and sustainable growth framework to the arts. We’ve taken a page from startups and are applying a framework that allows companies to test their business models and scale them in a low-risk and low-cost manner. Together we can build the theater companies of the 21st century.

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