Why shopping online for theater is different than shopping online for other entertainment.

iTunes revolutionized how music is consumed by satisfying our culture’s increasing demand for instant gratification.  Want a song?  Click.  Bam.  Boom.  It’s on your iPod and you’re rocking out to your favorite Carpenters tune in no time.

Netflix is now pushing their instant viewing option as a way to satisfy the capricious mind of today’s audience that doesn’t want to plan ahead.  I want to see Goonies.  Now.  Now.  Now!  And all from the comfort of one’s own couch.
And the latest is from Amazon.com, the company that re-energized how we bought books.  Now, with The Kindle, you can have the latest Jackie Collins e-delivered to you in seconds, wherever you are.
So what do all of these trends have in common?
They don’t require the buyer to get off his butt.
The fundamental difference between purchasing theater tickets online and purchasing most any other product online, is that the purchase of a theater ticket is a commitment on behalf of the buyer to make a physical effort in order to have the experience at a future date or time.
In addition to all of the examples above, food, clothes, electronics, etc. are all e-shopped items that can be delivered, but buying a theater ticket requires you to get off your couch, determine your method of transportation, block out time to see the show (there ain’t no pause button), and physically get your American Idol watching a$$ down to the theater.
This is one of the greatest challenges that the theater faces in the next decade, as more and more entertainment options become instantly available to us (it’s also important that as we develop our marketing strategies we realize this fundamental difference in our customers’ purchase thought process).
But these challenges are not insurmountable.  As I’ve said before, I believe that as more of these two dimensional forms of entertainment become available to us, the three dimensional form or the “live” entertainment experience becomes that much more rare, and that much more valuable . . . provided the experience is still special.
A lot of people disagree with me.  They say that the internet has changed the face of entertainment and that theater will be dead in 20 years.
My response?
Somehow, the theater has survived the invention of the radio, the movie, and most significantly . . . the television. As long as we tweak our experience to satisfy our new audience’s expectations, we’ll have no problem surviving this.
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Speaking of The Kindle, for those of you who own that little cracker-jack of a device, you can now get my blog e-delivered directly to your Kindle.  Visit the Kindle store and search for Ken Davenport or click here!
If you don’t own one, let me tell you that it’s one of my favorite new toys, thanks to the PDF feature.  It allows me to read more scripts than ever before.

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