Despite booming business, a streaming startup is causing drama on Broadway

A startup called BroadwayHD is caught in the center of an argument about the future of streaming Broadway shows.

June 13, 2019

Broadway had a big year — attendance (14.7m butts in seats) and revenue ($1.8B) both broke records.

So it would seem strange to say that the future of New York’s theater industry is in danger — but that’s exactly the pitch behind BroadwayHD, the growing startup that’s causing drama in the theater industry.

Broadway’s civil war

Two Broadway insiders — Bonnie Comley and Stewart Lane — founded BroadwayHD, the first streaming service for live theater.

BroadwayHD still mostly features old shows. But, at a cost of $8.99 per month, the service still offers 300 shows on platforms like Roku and Google Play.

BroadwayHD’s founders argue streaming will expand Broadway’s audience. But, as The Washington Post reports, traditionalists disagree.

‘To stream or not to stream, that is the question…’ 

Broadway’s 41 theaters, all in the same tiny Manhattan district, are notoriously insular. But supporters argue that exclusivity keeps audiences around, saying streaming will alienate in-person audiences. 

But the link between NYC’s record flood of tourists this year and Broadway’s boom (63% of Broadway attendees are visitors) makes the long-term appeal of streaming hard to ignore… and partners are lining up. 

Netflix recently bought rights to “Springsteen on Broadway,” and Apple and Amazon have opened their doors for producers to distribute their shows digitally.

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