BROADWAYHD: THE DIGITAL MULTIPLEX FOR YOUR THEATRE FAVORITES
Written By: Indranil Roy
With every passing year, the demand for streaming shows across the planet is growing ten folds as viewers cut the cord at traditional cable networks. Disney+ launched in November 2019 and already has 86 million subscribers, Netflix has more than 160 million, and Amazon Prime has 112 million subscribers. With the appetite for streaming video and subscriber numbers increasing, new streaming platforms with a myriad of contents are entering the market.
Analysts predict that households will have one or two of the giant streamers like Netflix or Hulu but they will also be willing to pay niche streaming services for their special interests. In the niche area of the market, the more clearly defined the content, the better the chance of survival. The niche success stories are the fanbases for sports subscribing to ESPN+, horror fans subscribing to Shudder, anime fans at Crunchyroll and theatre fans streaming at BroadwayHD.
Many streaming services have seen their subscriber numbers climb during the pandemic but none as dramatically as BroadwayHD. Theatre, is an art form traditionally confined to bricks and mortar venues but when Broadway shows and live performance shut down in March 2020, theatre lovers became a globally underserved fanbase and started streaming BroadwayHD shows in record numbers.
Broadway is a luxury brand recognized around the world as the pinnacle of live entertainment and BroadwayHD is the aggregator of filmed or otherwise referred to as digitally captured Broadway shows. Since the service launched in 2015, BroadwayHD’s mission is to preserve and promote the splendour of Broadway to a global audience through state-of-the-art streaming technology. The Broadway content appeals to people from all age groups but the younger audience who were unable to afford the high priced tickets to the live performances are increasingly consuming the digital Broadway shows. The Broadway ticket buyer has no option for live shows and BroadwayHD’s extensive on-demand streaming catalogue is the perfect solution.
INTEGRATION OF BROADWAY AND STREAMING TECHNOLOGY
Formed with passion and tailored mechanisms, BroadwayHD is conferred as ‘The Netflix for Broadway’. It has a leading presence among streaming platforms with a library featuring 300+ digital captures of premium, full-length theatrical productions. Every content on-board leverages high-end theatrical productions shot on HD and 4K cameras from multiple viewpoints. Viewers can enjoy recorded, live-streamed Broadway, West End, off-Broadway and regional performances anywhere, any time.
BroadwayHD is the cloud border of innovation for theatre as it leads the digital transformation, giving unlimited access to on-demand digital productions at a cost-effective rate. The platform integrates the desire to democratize an elite form of entertainment with an intuitive interface. BroadwayHD is available on all connected devices from mobile phones and tablets to desktops, laptops, and TVs on any digital platform (Apple TV and Google Chromecast, Roku, Amazon Prime, Firestick) for iOS and Android or via the website at www.BroadwayHD.com
ADORNED WITH EMERGING INNOVATIONS
BroadwayHD emphasizes superior, exclusive content and an uninterrupted streaming experience as the key to customer satisfaction. The technology is supported by forward-thinking designers and marketing experts, both in-house and outsourced – and has become the cornerstone of the platform. In late 2019, BroadwayHD launched a new suite of applications and a next-generation Subscription Video-On-Demand (SVOD) service across multiple platforms and devices. These developments introduced a high-performance business model that ensured a robust end-to-end OTT video solution – a rich and personalized experience on any smart device. With a steady flow of exclusive content as the base for its subscription offering, BroadwayHD has cemented its status as a genuine OTT innovator.
The adoption of tech-advancements further paves the way for progressive customer service strategies. BroadwayHD’s audience falls into three respective categories – the Broadway ticket buyer, the theatre fan that lacks time or resources to go to the theatre, and the professionals working in the arts and culture sector. A keen eye on ticket buying patterns, fan groups on social media platforms, and continuing education with resource guides help BroadwayHD identify these segments.
EMPOWERING THEATRE CULTURE DIGITALLY
The BroadwayHD platform implements data-driven solutions to curate sustainable customer relationships. Since its inception, BroadwayHD’s innovative functioning has been significant in empowering the theatre culture. It has promoted several underrated and obscure shows globally, enabling emerging producers and actors to earn recognition and capitalize on an additional revenue stream. The platform further provided free-monthly-subscriptions to many academics & professionals, of the theatre arena aiding their professional development.
THE VISIONARY BEHIND THE CURTAIN
Bonnie Comley, the CEO, and co-founder has been the driving force at BroadwayHD. With internationally recognized theatre productions and user friendly-tech, BroadwayHD has grown into an exceedingly engaging platform. “BroadwayHD stands out clearly as the 24/7 destination for theatre fans looking to engage with an art form that they love”, declares Comley. Her passion and motivation for BroadwayHD are powered by a wide experience in the media segment. Comley is a Telly Award-winning journalist and former host for ‘NightLife TV’, airing on Travel Channel. She has produced over 40 films and 25 Broadway shows, in addition to tours and international stage productions. Comley has won three Tony Awards, an Olivier Award, and two Drama Desk Awards for her stage productions. Comley is also an active member of ‘The Broadway League’ and serves on their Audience Engagement and Education Committee.
Comley felt that Broadway shows should reach the far corners of the world, and every theatre fan should be able to see them. This core mission paved the way for BroadwayHD. Her efforts and endeavours have helped in spreading Broadway shows across boundaries. Comley’s highly regarded reputation within the Broadway industry enabled her company to successfully negotiate agreements with all 17 unions, guilds, and associations responsible for the live streaming and capture of Broadway’s unionized shows. Comley leveraged long-standing relationships to encourage the use of new media to stream, promote and expand the outreach of live theatrical productions.
Under Comley’s aegis, BroadwayHD has amassed subscribers across 124 countries and grown into a $ 300+ Million company, in a short span. This is evidence that there is a robust global market for stage-to-digital captures. Comley’s leadership further brought A ‘Guinness World Record’, for the first live stream of a Broadway show, and a Webby nomination, as well. BroadwayHD is the recipient of the Global Business Excellence Award 2020 for Outstanding Innovation and Outstanding Product/Service.
A BEACON IN THE PANDEMIC
In March 2020, BroadwayHD was in its fifth year of business and one of the few fully functioning companies in the Broadway industry. When the Broadway theatres and theatres across the world shut down due to the outbreak of covid-19, BroadwayHD provided resources to allow regional theatres a distribution channel for their subscribers, creating a path for live theatre producing organizations around the country to use digital assets, previously only used for research and archival purposes, to be consumer-facing products and marketing and audience engagement assets.
The reality is that theatres and the making of the theatre will never be exactly as it was pre-covid but the digital transformation and the use of the recorded digital version of shows will now be incorporated into the standard operating procedure of live stage productions. The hybrid model of part live streaming and part ticket sales for the live shows will be the new business model going forward. Comley through her company, BroadwayHD, was instrumental in the evolution of the stage to digital movement and BroadwayHD’s catalogue of pre-covid 19 recordings will be the beacon on the path back to recovery.
AN EXUBERANT CULTURE
The trajectory of a company is never the same – With time, it needs to adapt to changes, trends and market conditions as well. More importantly, a company needs to encompass passionate people, who can fulfil the vision and are compatible with emerging developments. BroadwayHD consists of employees who share Comley’s passion – to globalize Broadway shows. The company is filled with diverse skill sets from theatremakers to tech geeks and marketing experts, working on increasing the subscriber base. Each department is entitled with a well-defined team leader, and transparent and real-time communication, are followed to adhere to its 24/7 functioning.
Comley’s understanding of a myriad business facets helps her coordinate with everyone in the company. As a female CEO, she has ensured a 50-50 gender split and promoted a diverse work culture. She is accomplished in working behind and in front of the camera and stage. She is an excellent communicator, a published author and an ardent learner as well. Suprio Guha Thakurta, a former Chief Strategy Officer at The Economist and Founder of Accelero said, “Bonnie and I attended an executive leadership program together. I was half-way through the six-month course before I discovered that she was a three-time Tony Award winner and has produced 40+ films. She never spoke of all her incredible achievements. She was more interested in soaking in the learning”.
AN INSPIRATION FOR WOMEN IN THEATRE
Comley’s hard work and dedication have made her a highly sought after producer in the theatre space and a global thought leader in the theatre to digital space. Comley was elected Vice President of The Drama League for a third term and has been serving its board, since 2009. In 2019, she was honoured with the ‘Woman of Achievement Award’ from the WP Theatre which was presented by Charlotte St.Martin, President of The Broadway League. Recently, Comley was selected as an Industry Leader in ‘Cynopsis Women in Media Class of 2020’.
Comley’s philanthropic efforts have been acknowledged with numerous accolades including; The Actors Fund Medal of Honor, The Drama League Special Contribution to the Theater Award, The Paul Newman Award from Arts Horizons and The Theater Museum Distinguished Service.
Further commemorating her efforts and significance to the worldwide theatre community, The Music Theatre Program at Boston University is named after her, The Musical Theatre Society Room at Emerson College carries her name, the theatre at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell is named Comley-Lane Theatre and the Stewart F. Lane and Bonnie Comley Stage is centred in the Boston Booth Arts Complex.
Comley is revered for her expertise in the theatre and television industries and frequently acts as a mentor and expert panellist. She has been a keynote speaker at BroadwayCon, C2E2 (Chicago ComicCon), SXSW, Goldman Sachs & Co., Theatre Resources Unlimited (TRU), NYC TV Week, TV of Tomorrow, Crain’s New York Arts and Culture Webcast, The Wrap and City National Bank Women Entrepreneurs. She has given masterclasses and been a guest lecturer at Columbia University, New York University, Emerson College, NYFA, Five Towns College and UMass, and many others. Comley is also a member of ‘Portfolia’ and supports the foundation’s investments towards early-stage potential companies in the US focusing on companies with colour and LGBTQ communities.
PLANS FOR THE ROAD AHEAD
In its short, yet award-winning journey, BroadwayHD has attained new heights. For the road ahead, BroadwayHD aims to continue multiplying its subscriber base. Comley’s leadership and BroadwayHD’s enormous catalogue of spectacular productions will continue to preserve the live theatre industry in the aftermath of COVID-19. For theatre enthusiasts who might not be able to enjoy a live theatre experience, BroadwayHD will remain the innovative aggregator of high quality professionally captured Broadway shows and lead the theatre industry’s digital transformation.
A TOKEN OF ENLIGHTENMENT
“Be bold, be innovative and bring ideas that redefine the market.” – Bonnie Comley