A streaming war is brewing on Broadway.
With coronavirus restrictions keeping theater marquees dimmed since March 12, a new streaming service called Broadway on Demand is set to debut next month, going head-to-head with seven-year-old streamer BroadwayHD.
The new service has been light on details, but says it will offer a library of content, exclusive livestream events, interactive platforms, and video lessons from leading theater instructors. Its roster of more than 100 archived shows from around the world will be announced soon.
The new service will compete against the established BroadwayHD, which was founded in 2013 by Tony-award winning producers Stewart Lane and Bonnie Comley. BroadwayHD, which costs $8.99 a month or $99.99 a year, offers over 200 titles, including “Oklahoma!,” starring Hugh Jackman, and Ian McKellen as “King Lear,” as well as theater documentaries.
“Broadway is a giant global brand, and its impact extends far beyond a few blocks in Midtown Manhattan,” Broadway on Demand’s Chief Executive Sean Cercone said Thursday in a statement. “This platform is our way of breaking down geographical and economic barriers so that the entire world can partake in all the wonders that Broadway has to offer.”
Broadway on Demand hasn’t yet pinpointed an exact date in May, but says it will kick off with a benefit concert dubbed, “30 Days of Opening Nights.” The concert will be live-streamed from Hollywood’s Bourbon Room “in accordance with social distancing guidelines and policies,” the company said.
The programming schedule for the benefit concert will be revealed in the coming days, and viewing will be available through Broadway on Demand, which offers free membership, as well as a premium subscription for a soon-to-be disclosed monthly fee. That subscription will provide access to additional content.
The event will raise funds for entertainers affected by the coronavirus, including playwrights, musicians, composers and theater personnel. Broadway theaters nationwide have been closed since March, and they are expected to remain closed until coronavirus restrictions ease. In New York, the Broadway League, the trade group for Broadway, said theaters will remain dark through June 7.