As of Nov. 1, the website BroadwayOnline.com will no longer offer its service of theatre news, columns, ticket sales and special features. A victim of the dot-com downturn plaguing America, the site, owned by Broadway Television Network (BTN), has shut down.
Rumors of financial trouble had long plagued the site, but the steady stream of content and a recent redesign belied the naysayers. However, when the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks sent shockwaves through the business world, BroadwayOnline.com took a hit in sponsorship from which it was unable to recover.
As of Oct. 31, the site's home page was still operational, with the news crawl offering "Best Of" compilations by such writers as journalist Randy Gener, editor Robert Viagas, and columnists Jessica Brower and Peter Filichia (the latter has already found a new internet home; his weekly column will begin appearing on TheatreMania.com Nov. 5).
Playbill On-Line former managing editor Viagas will return to the Playbill company to manage its digital broadcasting wing, specifically concerning content for the Sirius Radio Network.
Before its name change to BroadwayOnline.com, the site was initially called "BuyBroadway.com" and then "Theatre.com" (not to be confused with Theater.com, which brings web surfers to Broadway.com, the other major website in the theater information field). According to BroadwayOnline's website, the concept was to create a "comprehensive internet theatre portal that designs and hosts websites for the Broadway industry." Its mix of news, ticket sales, listings and other features were ultimately geared towards directing readers to the websites of specific shows (where, presumably, they'd go on to buy tickets and merchandise). The parent company, Broadway Television Network, has been taping Broadway shows (Smokey Joe's Cafe, Jekyll & Hyde, Putting it Together) for broadcast on Pay-Per View and theatrical outlets. In his final open letter to BroadwayOnline readers, editor Viagas wrote about achieving his dream of making theatre news reportage as urgent as the coverage of standard news in the daily papers and media. He thanked his staff, BTN and "most of all...the readers who visited the site daily, and made it part of their lives. I believe that theatre does not happen on the stage, it happens in the hearts of those sitting in the audience."
— By David Lefkowitz