Theater Lovers to Receive More Streaming Options with the Launch of Stage
There are currently more than 200 streaming services for consumers to choose from, but a new streaming network called Stage will debut in August, and it is billing itself as the world’s first streaming network with a strict focus on theater.
The network will feature live theater, talk shows, documentaries, Broadway shows, films, concerts, international stage productions, and original variety, reality, and scripted series. A free version will launch in August, with a subscription-based counterpart to launch in October. Initially, the service will only be available for consumers in the United States, but a global expansion will commence in 2019.
On the free version, users will have the opportunity to preview original content in production, licensed films, and micro-series. The subscription-based service, which has not yet announced its pricing, will widen the selection to 500 hours of programming.
“Much like the time it takes to produce a full-scale Broadway show, we’ve been quietly at work on Stage for two years, building our team of talent, developing our platform and acquiring existing content, as well as producing new, exclusive programming,” said Rich Affannato, the network’s CEO, chairman, and co-founder, who also produced shows such as Peter and the Starcatcher. “Our mission is to make theater accessible to all, drawing in existing theater fans and those new to the world to appreciate the legacy of theater, while presenting it in a fresh, streamlined, relevant manner.”
Programming will include Studio Sessions, a show which honors a different composer in each episode with acoustic performances, Crossovers, a talk show which features stars who have transitioned from theater to other media, and The Next Great American Musical, which is a reality show in which new plays are presented. The shows compete against each other, and one wins the opportunity to become a Broadway production. Both judges and the audience will vote.
EMO the Musical, How I Got Over, The Standbys, Showing Up, The Artists Lounge Live, and Broadway Idiot make up the content licensed for viewing on Stage.
Stage’s billing of itself as the first theater streaming network is debatable, since the first live stream of a Broadway show was accomplished by BroadwayHD in 2015. BroadwayHD was launched in 2015 by husband-and-wife duo Stewart F. Lane and Bonnie Comley, and at the time offered about 100 plays.
Despite maybe not being as completely original as it claims, Stage’s existence is still something to celebrate. In an era where the first streaming-service providers most people can name are more than likely Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime, the addition of Stage will allow theater streaming to have a greater chance at rivaling the aforementioned market giants.