Theatergoers Are More Likely to See ‘Hamilton’ Live After Streaming It
We all want to be in the room where it happens — whether virtually or in person. So when Disney+ released a filmed version of Hamilton featuring the original cast, the world watched, while the Broadway industry wondered: Does this mean people will stop buying theater tickets?
Cannibalizing ticket sales has been a concern with theatrical streaming for years, as producers worry that a product that’s widely available for cheaper will mean that the luxury experience of going to the theater will lose its value. And in most cases when a production is released in a filmed variety, it comes out after the final curtain falls. Oh, Hello and Springstreen on Broadway hit Netflix after their closing notice, and BroadwayHD and PBS’s Great Performances have a slew of filmed productions that aren’t available live anywhere. There might be community theater productions or touring shows, but the version available onscreen doesn’t exist anywhere else.
So releasing Hamilton while the show is *technically* still running (pandemic aside) felt revolutionary. Here was one of the hottest tickets in cities around the world, and instead of paying hundreds of dollars for a ticket, anyone could see the action close up for a $6.99 subscription. Who would still buy tickets to see the show?
Turns out, lots of people. TodayTix asked our audience whether streaming the show negates the live experience, and the enthusiasm for seeing theater onstage and onscreen was real. Of TodayTix users surveyed in U.S. markets, 63% of respondents watched Hamilton on Disney+, and of those who watched and have not seen the production live, 39% are more likely to buy a ticket now.
And the excitement is not just about the 10-dollar founding father. Eighty-one percent of Hamilton viewers would pay or subscribe to a platform to watch another live capture of a Broadway or West End show. Online streaming is seeing a surge in popularity with Covid lockdowns around the world, and 46% of global TodayTix users are streaming more theatrical content now.
But the streaming surge won’t end when lockdown is over. Seventy-eight percent of global TodayTix users still want to see streamed shows and content when theaters open back up, and 72% said they would buy tickets for a streamed production even when shows start up again.
While theatrical streaming is still in its nascent stage, and there are conversations to be had about platforms, pricing models, and more, it’s clear that audiences are hungry for musicals and plays in all forms, whether in lockdown or not. Streaming opens up so many possibilities and offers newfound accessibility, both from price and location standpoints, to audiences who might not get to experience theater that often, if ever.
As conversations about how to save and support the arts industry abound, and calls for government support in the wake of unprecedented closures echo through the social sphere, it’s important to consider how streaming just might be a new business and audience acquisition model for theater in the Covid and post-Covid world.
Also, if more people can see your show, then more people might fall in love with theater, and then the love and passion for this ephemeral art form won’t die. In fact, we’ll likely end up with more audiences and more artists, and we’ll have a new way to find a seat for everyone.