Broadway gets a few steps closer to streaming.

Broadway struggles to take steps into the future.  But thankfully, there are a few orgs out there that are grabbing its hand and pulling it, kicking and “streaming” into the 21st century.

And in the past few days, we’ve made some headway on the subject of filmed theatrical productions, which is near and dear to my handheld device.

On Monday, Tony Award winners Stewart F. Lane and Bonnie Comley announced that BroadwayHD, a company they started dedicated to capturing Broadway content, was now in the business of streaming theater to anyone with access to the web.  You can join and watch Orlando Bloom in Romeo and Juliet, the Tony Award-winning MemphisJekyll & Hyde and a ton more.  Of course, the majority of the titles in their online catalog are from UK productions (click here to read my take on that), but it’s a step . . . and more than a baby step . . . to educating our audiences and more importantly, us content creators, that there is another distribution method for our shows.  And this distribution method means additional revenue for the artists, and for the investors . . . and is a massive marketing tool for the specific productions (licensing anyone?) and for theater as a whole.

And last night, Lincoln Center and Playbill offered a live stream of Songwriters, a concert performance of songs by Robert L. Freedman (Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder), Ryan Scott Oliver, Kerrigan and Lowdermilk, Nick Blaemire and more, featuring Broadway A-list talent like Alice Ripley and Jeff Blumenkrantz.

Not bad, right?  Anything to give theater fans something to watch besides another rerun of SVU.

Seriously, when we can start competing with television and Netflix, we will get a massive leg up on our competition.  And no, I’m not worried about losing our audience.  Movies from musicals (even the bad ones) have proven over and over that grosses always go up when there is a movie in the market.

I’d expect both BroadwayHD and Lincoln Center/Playbill to offer more and more titles in the future.  And I’d expect other orgs to follow the lead of these innovators and offer streaming of their own.

In fact, they say things happen in threes.  So maybe there’s another big announcement coming soon.

And maybe it will be from me.


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  • Karmela says:

    So…are we getting a filmed/streamed version of the Spring Awakening revival? I’ll be the first backer if it ends up on Kickstarter!

  • Sue Cohen says:

    I’m just happy that I’ll be able to see Orlando Bloom in Romeo and Juliet since the show closed early and my tickets were refunded.

  • Iris says:

    That sounds exciting, bring it on!
    Yay from Broadway HD but with the exception of Memphis and Jekyll&Hyde are they not only all UK productions, they are all plays. I like to see plays every once in a while, but my passion are musicals and not even the UK has streamed many of those so far, sadly. People need to get on that!

  • Kit says:

    Sadly, this means nothing until they convince current shows to use this technology as a marketing and revenue stream. I’m all for this idea, but it feels like a 50% effort is being given here. Shows already get “aftermarket” revenue through regional and stock productions through licensing. This is only adding a small bit to that revenue.

    If they want to really make use of the tech and the opportunities, then they need to view it as what it is. Namely, “live entertainment”. Other live industries (sports, music, etc) have been using the video medium to line their pockets for decades. The theater has its own set of unique challenges when it comes to the distribution of their material, but mostly it lacks a willingness to even discuss the options, ideas, and possibilities. Get out of your own way and bring live theater to the masses not just the 1,500 people who can fit in a theater each night.

  • Cheryl says:

    Sounds exciting. There are so many shows I have seen that I would love to be able to watch again.

  • Ken says:

    I would think the best way to do this is to record the shows and have them available to stream after the show closes. This way we are not canibalizeing the audience. Also we can all then see a show that we either loved or hated when we saw it live. Or see a show that was missed. Another benefit is it would slow down the production of simple revivals forcing the new production to really do something new.

  • Rebecca Hanauer says:

    Ken (or whoever reads these comments for Ken?),

    I saw Spring Awakening this weekend, and I just wanted to say thank you so much for bringing this show to Broadway. I’m already planning another trip up to NYC to see it again. It was so phenomenal and I hope that it inspires more productions that are accessible to all audiences.Thank you so much to you and your whole team.

  • Anna says:

    Do you know how this was worked out with Equity? Some of the obstacles to streaming thus far have been lack of clarity about Equity’s position on it.

  • Michael says:

    Streaming shows that you can buy as DVD’s on Amazon!


  • Joe Marino says:

    The third tier should be to see if you can get ahold of all of those videotaped (and rotoscopes) from Lincoln Center Library and put those out there. I’d pay to see the original BIG RIVER again. How cool would it be to see little-seen, barely revived, short-run shows out there. A small theater in CT or a high school in OR might find a hidden gem to produce.

    We could call it Broadway Prime. Or Stageflix. Or … well, you get the idea.

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