Broadway Community Calls for AT&T Boycott After Tweet Encourages Theatergoers to Stream Live TV During Shows

Members of the Broadway community have called for a boycott of AT&T after a message from the telecommunications giant encouraged customers to stream live TV during theater performances.

“Don’t let life get between you and football,” the Twitter message reads. “Get the All in One Plan from AT&T and DirectTV.”

The tweet, which was sent out at 10 a.m. on Monday and has since been deleted, also included a GIF showing a customer streaming football on his or her portable device while in the audience at a show. The text “Catch a winning play at the theater” accompanied the GIF.

"I encourage everyone to DROP AT&T,” wrote “Hand to God” star and Tony nominee Marc Kudisch.

Kudisch’s call for boycott was echoed by Jennifer Tepper -- a Broadway historian, author and Director of Programming at Feinstein’s / 54 Below. “This ignorant ad encourages rude, disruptive, against-the-rules behavior at the theatre,” she said.

Others, like Time Out Chicago’s chief theater critic Kris Vire, expressed interest in dropping AT&T altogether. “Well, I guess I have to change my phone and TV providers,” Vire tweeted.

"Taking my ball and going home to Verizon," said NBC's "Smash" star Ann Harada. "Way to insult an entire industry and a lot of wealthy, educated theatregoers."

An AT&T spokesman said in a statement to NBC 4 New York: "Certainly it's evident our ads take place in an alternate reality and are not meant to be taken literally. The broad concept of the campaign is that you see content just about anywhere." 

Still, many of Broadway's best expressed their disappointment with the suggestion that audience members could stream live TV during a live performance. 

“You cannot be serious AT&T,” said “An American in Paris” star and Tony nominee Max von Essen. “What an inconsiderate ad. Shame on you, AT&T” echoed “The King and I” star and Tony winner Ruthie Ann Miles.

“Not cool, AT&T,” said “Lysistrata Jones” star Patti Murin. “Not cool at all.”

NBC’s “Smash” alum Andy Mientus, who is currently starring in the revival of “Spring Awakening,” offered another suggestion for customers wanting to catch the football game. “Stay home because this behavior is against the rules at the theater and totally rude to everyone in the building,” he tweeted.

"Hey AT&T" -- you forgot to add in the fine print how utterly obnoxious this behavior is," "Wicked" alum Julia Murney wrote. Murney also suggested she and "Bullets Over Broadway" star Betsy Wolfe "park it on a 20 yard line during a game and watch old Tony Award broadcasts on our phones."

This isn’t the first time the Broadway community has gotten up in arms over cellphone use in the theater. Earlier this summer, Patti LuPone took a cell phone from an audience member who was texting during a performance of her off-Broadway show “Shows for Days.” Days prior, a man at Broadway’s “Hand to God” was scolded for trying to charge his phone on stage, in an outlet built into the show’s set.

It should be noted that it is against the law to use cell phones in New York City theatres, movie houses, concerts, museums, libraries and galleries, according to legislational passed in 2003 calling for a banning of devices at public cultural events. Though not often enforced, offenders can face a fine of $50 and eviction from the venue in question. 

Contact Us