Broadway On Demand is Changing The Game...Big Time
By Kobi Kassal
While the curtain is still down on Broadway, and at theatres around the country, there is a light at the end of the tunnel–that light is Broadway On Demand. This new streaming platform promises to deliver a variety of programming from exclusive performances to a wide-ranging library of video on demand content, and so much more. I spoke to President and CEO Sean Cercone via phone from the Hudson Valley, just north of Manhattan, where he is currently quarantining with his family.
The initial idea for the platform started in the educational sector with the question, “how can middle schools, high schools, camps, colleges, etc. reach families and friends who can’t make it to the show?” Cercone also serves as President and CEO of Broadway Licensing, a stock and amateur licensing company with titles such as A Bronx Tale, Head Over Heels, and more. “We inevitably all go to the school play that our kids are participating in and we do everything that we're not supposed to do, which is pull out our cell phone and start videotaping,” Cercone mentioned. For over a year now, his team has been hard at work developing the perfect platform to broadcast encrypted streams of shows that keep copyright protection, while allowing viewership from all over the world. The project was well on track when news of the Coronavirus started making its way stateside.
As the industry was inching closer and closer to its eventual shutdown, Cercone and team wanted to figure out how to help. “We quickly realized this is not just something that's going to be a tool that gets utilized by the educational sector. This is actually something for the entire fabric of the American landscape. At the end of the day, we are a host to lots of different organizations who want to use this platform—to use this we are a host to lots of different organizations who want to use this platform; to use this tool to reach their audience.”
Following the lead of other streaming giants, Broadway On Demand is also actively working on original content that will premiere on the site. They are trying to articulate what exactly does a live theatre streaming experience look like, and to Cercone, the key word in all of this is streaming. The company is hard at work developing new properties and titles in this uncharted territory. They credit the work NBC has done with their live telecasts and notes just how much the medium has changed from The Sound of Music in 2013 to their latest broadcast, Jesus Christ Superstar.
In planning this, the team has drawn correlation to major league sports. “Just because you go to the baseball game, doesn't mean you don't want to watch it at home. And they are completely different experiences and vice versa. Just because you watch at home doesn't mean you wouldn't go to the stadium.”
One of the key points that Cercone highlights about this platform is that there will always be streaming content, free of charge. “We're an arts organization slash tech company, not a tech company slash arts organization. Part of our mission of what we have here is trying to reach out into the entire global theater community.”
Broadway On Demand will be live by Memorial Day Weekend here in the states according to Cercone, and global plans are already in the works. The streaming platform will debut in the U.K. in June and within the next six months in South Korea, Japan, and China. They hope to add Australia, New Zealand, and Brazil in the near future.
For more information, visit https://www.broadwayondemand.com/
Kobi can be reached on Twitter at @kkassal