A few years ago, BroadwayHD was founded in the hopes of making theater more accessible to a broader range of people. Founded by a husband-and-wife team with over 83 years combined experience in Broadway business, BroadwayHD became the Netflix for theater.
The stream-on-demand service costs $9 per month for a library of musicals and plays. The recordings of the shows are HD or 4K captures of high-end theatrical products with the audio that is fed directly into the theater’s soundboard. Basically, the production quality is extremely high.
However, BroadwayHD doesn’t currently carry any of the recent Tony-winning productions such as Oklahoma, The Ferryman or Hadestown. Instead, the platform mostly stocks shows which have ended live runs.
Despite their shows being slightly behind current times, the BroadwayHD service itself is the first of its kind — the likes of which didn’t exist previous to its inception three years ago.
One of the main reasons why many are skeptical of online Broadway streaming is that live tapings of shows are often considered sacrilegious by theater sticklers.
As Sydney Beers, general manager of the Roundabout Theatre Company in New York (which set the Guinness World Record with BroadwayHD for the first Broadway show livestream) said: “Some people sign up to do live theater because it’s live. Your memory of it is right there, right them, and you leave with your experience. For some people, they feel strongly that you’re not meant to be able to go and rent and watch again.”
BroadwayHD is one of many artistic outlets trying to stay relevant by modernizing the delivery method to a broader audience of consumers.
The platform is betting people will attend more live shows if they can familiarize themselves with the world from afar, without committing massive travel or show fees in order to learn more.
As one of BroadwayHD’s founders, Bonnie Comley, notes: “The more familiar they are with it, the better off everyone is within the industry.”