Digital theatre is the future. As more industries find success online and on digital platforms, the notoriously wary of tech live theatre industry will need to play catch up in order to capture young audiences looking for, and used to, digital products and experiences. As NFTs become more integral to the digital economy, digital theatre plus NFTs may become the new norm.
Streaming services are an expected, yet surprisingly untapped way to bring theatre digital.
There are some examples of streaming services picking up filmed versions of live theatre. Disney Plus, for example, released a version of Hamilton that was filmed exclusively for the service. That offering, by the way, boosted downloads of the streaming service by 74%. Of course, a part of that percentage can be attributed to the fact that Hamilton is one of, if not the, biggest musical theatre hits ever. But there is something to be said about streaming services looking to digitize Broadway shows and bring them from the stage to the small screen. In fact, theatre fans are, at least at the time of this writing, somewhat of an underserved market when it comes to streaming.
Productions would be wise to take advantage of the fact that theatre fans, some of the most passionate in the world, don’t yet have a go-to option when it comes to streaming filmed versions of live shows.
Some companies are looking to change that. BroadwayHD is a great example of a company bringing theatre into the digital future by offering fans a streaming platform dedicated to theatre. And with a ton of offerings, BroadwayHD is looking to pull theatre into the 21st century, even if it has to come kicking and streaming.
While an entire streaming service dedicated to theatre is something that fans would love and is much needed in the industry, there is another way of streaming to fans without a full-blown Netflix but for theatre option. Herding Cats is a play that originally appeared on Stellar Tickets, a different type of “streaming service.”
Stellar Tickets offers production companies a way to digitize and monetize live events. With Herding Cats, fans were offered options to both live stream performances, and watch later through a video-on-demand option. Stellar Tickets is also taking digital theatre a step further by incorporating NFT drops.
In collaboration with Third Act, theatre’s first NFT marketplace, Stellar Tickets and Herding Cats allowed fans to purchase NFTs based on the show. NFT drops are a great way for productions and streaming services to draw interest from fans, and when a production’s “NFT stocks” go up it also opens up a new stream of revenue. Digital theatre plus NFTs is just another building block(chain) in theatre’s inevitable digital future. And Third Act, with its ability to not only mint, but design and promote a show’s digital collectibles is the best NFT marketplace for bringing your show digital.
Ready Theatre One
There’s another way that theatre can go digital that may sound a little out there, but everyday this option for digital theatre is going from possible reality to probably certainty.
The term ‘metaverse’ is becoming more mainstream. You may have heard that Facebook recently rebranded, calling themselves “Meta,” and there are a host of companies and business figures betting big on the eventual turn towards this new digital universe.
If you don’t know what the metaverse is, this article offers a more in-depth explanation. But essentially, the metaverse is a host of connected virtual spaces. Games like World of Warcraft and Second Life are primitive examples of what the metaverse is. And in a way, with our constant use of social media sites, we’re already living in a version quasi-version of the metaverse.
But how does theatre come into play?
Live performances and promotions have taken place in what some would refer to as an already existing metaverse. The Travis Scott Fortnite concert is one example. Roblox, another video game that doubles as a metaverse featured Chipotle’s “Boorito” maze, and while that’s not a live performance, it is an example of a major brand taking the digital universe seriously.
These events and concerts are just the beginning of physical experience going digital. Theatre is the perfect form to transition over to a metaverse model. It is a live performance that, oftentimes, is inaccessible. Theatres have a limited capacity, and rarely, if ever, venture into the realm of the arena.
Now, there may not seem like much of a difference between watching a live stream from your couch and watching one as a character on Fortnite as you’re sitting on, well, your couch. But there is a difference, and that’s where NFTs come into play.
NFTs and cryptocurrency will be integral to the internet as the metaverse takes shape. As people begin to spend time in virtual spaces, owning virtual property is going to become the norm. That’s what NFTs are. They’re virtual property in which proof-of-ownership is inherent.
So imagine you’ve bought a ticket to the virtual premiere of Cats. You’re issued a virtual ticket. But, considering everything is taking place online, your ticket is vulnerable to people trying to steal it. The only problem for any would-be hacker is that the ticket you received is an NFT, and is logged on a ledger that contains proof of both the transaction made and that you are, in fact, the owner.
We can also look to the present to see how NFTs could play a role in theatre’s digital future.
What Third Act did in collaboration with Herding Cats was already mentioned as an example of how productions could take advantage of digital tools now. But as we move further into a digital world, one in which we spend more time in online and VR spaces, digital collectibles and merchandise are going to be a big slice of a live production’s revenue pie.
Right now, one of the main use cases for NFTs is digital collectibles. The same technology that can prevent a person from stealing your digital tickets can also authenticate ownership over a piece of digital art or merchandise. This means shows can release limited supplies of certain NFTs, bringing in extra value due to the limited nature of the piece. Similar to how blockchain can prevent tickets from being counterfeited, it can also prevent duplicate and fraudulent merchandise from existing online.
Theatre, as a live medium, will always exist. Just like nothing beats attending a live sports game or seeing your favorite band in person, there’s nothing like live theatre. But as the world moves into a digital-centric future, productions and the theatre industry will need to think of alternative ways to enter the digital space. But with companies like Third Act and BroadwayHD paving the way for theatre’s digital future, there’s no doubt that it can be done.