Stagebill was a monthly U.S. magazine for theatregoers. Most copies of were printed for particular productions and distributed at the door as the show's program. It was launched as a direct rival to the highly successful monthly Playbill. But after five years of head-to-head tough competition with Playbill, Stagebill became insolvent and was acquired by its rival who also kept the Stagebill trademark.[1]


Stagebill was launched as a direct competition to Playbill a highly successful publication. Playbill concentrated on Broadway and Off-Broadway theaters, while Stagebill positioned itself as a publication focused on concerts, opera, and dance in venues such as Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall.[2]

However, by the late 1990s, Playbill was extremely profitable; Stagebill was not, losing millions of dollars annually by 1998.[3] To increase revenue, Stagebill entered Playbill's turf. Its first major attempt was in 1995 when The Public Theater defected to Stagebill. A bigger rift came in 1997, when Disney contracted Stagebill for its big musical production The Lion King at the newly reopened New Amsterdam Theatre.[4] The main point of contention in the latter case was control over advertising content: Playbill is distributed free to theaters, relying on advertising revenue that is completely under its authority, whereas per company policy; Disney required a program without cigarette or liquor ads.[5] In response to Stagebill's upstart incursion, Playbill began to produce Showbill, a sister publication that conformed to Disney's advertising requirements for all publications distributed in its properties.[2] Playbill responded further by producing publications for classic arts venues, aggressively courting many venues that were once Stagebill clients like the Metropolitan Opera, the Carnegie Hall and the New York Philharmonic.[4]

With a more aggressive policy of acquiring publicity for more performing arts venues, Playbill broke from its typical format and began publishing completely customized programs in the vein of Stagebill.[5] This coupled with continuing fiscal troubles of Stagebill signaled the end of it as a publishing entity. Stagebill became insolvent and was acquired by its rival Playbill who also kept the Stagebill trademark.


  1. Hofler, Robert (9 June 2002). "Playbill corners legit market". Variety. Retrieved November 14, 2013.
  2. 1 2 Pincus-Roth, Zachary (18 October 2007). "Ask Playbill® and Showbill®". Playbill. Retrieved November 14, 2013.
  3. Jones, Chris (10 June 2002). "Stagebill is sold to rival Playbill". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved November 14, 2013.
  4. 1 2 Brodesser, Claude; Jones, Oliver (9 March 1999). "Melodrama at Met". Variety. Retrieved November 14, 2013.
  5. 1 2 Mandell, Jonathan (25 August 2002). "Theater's memory bank expands". The New York Times. Retrieved November 14, 2013.
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