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'NYT' Pumps Up Online Theater Section

Video, search tools have service focus
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A day after upgrading its online comment system, on Thursday The New York Times was set to begin rolling out significant changes to its online theater section. The updates build on other changes to the paper’s online arts coverage, like the Arts & Entertainment Guide events listings.

A key feature of the upgrade is Show Tuner, a tool that lets visitors filter shows by mood, style, or audience to find results that match their preferences. Early next year, the section will add more video content, including a Broadway Previews channel populated by videos from The Broadway Channel, an outside distributor of theater videos.

Tablet users won’t immediately get to enjoy the enhancements on their Times apps, however. While they can see them on their tablet's browser, the Times has no plans to incorporate the upgrades into its apps.

The changes come amid a general growth in the number of digital products serving the New York theater crowd, from New York’s culture blog Vulture to niche sites like Broadway World and Theater Mania.

Denise Warren, chief advertising officer of The New York Times Media Group and general manager of NYTimes.com, said the changes were aimed at readers and advertisers, who will have more video ad opportunities. Five shows signed on as charter advertisers of the site relaunch, including Book of Mormon, Jersey Boys, and War Horse.

“We have an active audience of theater-goers,” Warren said. “This is really designed to help them home in on what their final decision will be.”

As for making the theater section more social, Warren said the Times has taken a site-wide approach with this week's upgrades, rather than making section-specific changes. 

The listings, ticket-buying feature, search tools, and reviews also will be enhanced.