AudienceView Acquires TheaterMania

Deal includes TheaterMania's OvationTix software, TheaterMania.com and WhatsOnStage media brand

  • by Brad Weissberg
  • Published: July 11, 2017

AudienceView has acquired TheaterMania, which includes OvationTix Software as a service product as well as the TheaterMania.com and WhatsOnStage media brands.

“About a year ago AudienceView was looking at our long-term growth strategy and we decided we were looking at both organic and inorganic growth,” said Mark Fowlie, CEO of AudienceView. “We looked at various potential organizations we could combine with and quickly realized that TheaterMania had a unique combination of software and media capabilities that complimented our strategy and customer focus.”

The cultural fit was also a good match, according to Fowlie. “Ultimately, the people combination is the most important thing. Code is code. It doesn’t argue. But people need to fit together culturally and have a common mission and vision.”

“AudienceView and TheaterMania have long shared a common passion to help entertainment organizations build devoted communities and fulfill their missions,” said Gretchen Shugart, formerly CEO of TheaterMania and now President, Arts and Culture of AudienceView. “We are truly thrilled to be aligned with an organization that understands the industry that we serve and has aggressive plans to invest in our products and offerings to drive even more success for our clients.”

The talks between the two companies started three months ago. “After just a few calls between Gretchen and myself we both felt there were strong strategic synergies about how we go to market,” said Fowlie. “There was strong alignment in our thinking as well as thoughts around the product portfolio side and how we would focus AudeinceView and OvationTix together into the broad arts and culture community.”

Fowlie said the product portfolio of AudeinceView and OvationTix together will allow them to attack the broader market segments with two solutions. “AudienceView being geared toward organizations that have a lot of IT needs and OvationTix as an out-of-the-box solution that will meet their fundamental needs around ticketing,” he said.

The second broad category of synergy is around the media brands. “TheaterMania and WhatsOnStage are really about serving the community of theatregoers who are looking for clarity around what they should be seeing through various forms of media property.” Fowlie cited editorial content, interviews, videos and news and newsletters as examples.

TheaterMania has three subscriber-based theatre clubs; one in New York City, one in Boston and one in London. Members join for a year at a time. “For a very low fee the client gets access to theatre all year long and a wide variety of productions at very deep discounts,” said Shugart, who is hoping to expand the concept to new markets.

“We are going to build new project modules that work across both platforms,” explained Fowlie. “Things like mobile apps and point-of-sale and analytic packages and a number of things we think are going to be very compelling solutions for either platform.”

“We can quickly deploy these services and customers will have the benefit of that innovation,” he said. “It’s an efficient way to pool our RV spend and drive our product maps forward very aggressively.”

TheaterMania gets a million visitors a month. “It’s a really compelling opportunity for our arts and culture clients to get exposure and connect with the public,” said Fowlie. “We think this combination is incredibly unique and there’s no one else in the space bringing together ticketing, fundraising, CRM, analytics and the drive and reach of our distribution.”

TheaterMania was founded at the turn of the century, said Shugart, and has been self-funded since inception. “We’ve been plowing all our profits back into the business,” she said. “We figured after 16 years it was time to provide some liquidity back to our shareholders.”

Shugart shares Fowlie’s sentiments that top of the list of reasons the companies should be aligned is “the cultural fit. Our mission has always been to provide products and services to the arts and culture live entertainment industry so it can fulfill its mission. AudienceView understands the media and distribution channels and the technology side of the business.”

Shugart also believes the two companies' platforms are “very complementary. TheaterMania services the smaller to medium-sized venues while AudeinceView services the larger venues. Between the two platforms we really cover all of live entertainment.”

TheaterMania will continue to operate out of New York City and WhatsOnStage, the company’s U.K. media property, will continue to operate out of its London office. Together the new company will have around 200 employees.

Fowlie doesn’t expect any staff redundancies. “Both companies have very solid growth plans,” he said. “Our thesis is that we are going to bring two really great companies together and make one really great company.”

“Whether a venue has an audience of 99 or over 100,000, AudienceView is now the most compelling choice for organizations that want to grow their communities through innovative technology, strategic distribution strategies, and a team of experts dedicated to creating and supporting customer success every single day,” adds Fowlie.

JEGI served as the exclusive financial advisor to TheaterMania.

  • by Brad Weissberg
  • Published: July 11, 2017