• Skeeterbuggins Productions

Some Thoughts On What's New In Theater Livestreaming and Our Part In It

Over the past couple of weeks, a huge announcement came out about theater and livestreaming.


Until now, theater could not be livestreamed. Heck, it could barely be recorded without sacrificing your first born child to Andrew Lloyd Webber. Yet, due to the restrictions set forth by COVID-19, the doors have been made open in this process.


MTI (Music Theater International), in partnership with ShowTix4U and BMD (Broadway Media Distribution) have made this possible. Though it's kind of complicated how it works, I will explain how to the best of my knowledge.


This is all on research and conversations I have had with parties involved in this partnership so I will try to keep it simple.


If you have a show you want to do, that can be livestreamed (Link for the list of available shows), the cost of the streaming license from MTI is $75. If you notice, this is the same price for the archive recording license. So as a theater, you are looking at $150 right there.


The next part is where things get tricky, in my opinion. To do an actual live show stream, view-on-demand, or playback live, you'll need to use the ShowTix4U platform. They have designed the platform for this through the integration of their partners.


Why is this tricky? Well, if you are using another ticket provider and you are obligated to that provider, you now have contract issues of different sorts to deal with. Disputes such as even being able to use another provider of tickets at your venue could be a breach of contract in some instances.


Further, if you are in the situation where you have to use two tickets providers, you have twice the ticket providers to have to manage and analyze. Translation, more busy work for an arts organization.


As for the positives of the ticket process, I watched the webinar that ShowTix4U put together on the platform and the platform is quite nice and user friendly to setup, which is great on a lot of levels.


Now, we are ready to do the livestream or view-on-demand production. This is also another tricky part to navigate.


To be able to do the livestreaming, you need to use the software designed by Broadway Media. This is billed as free, but the process to get a copy of it is quite involved as only producers of the show can get access either through a camera rental or the streaming license they got from MTI.


Once you are into the system, you just need to have your streaming code to be able to setup everything and away you go!


As I stated above, you can rent equipment from Broadway Media to do your production. If an organization wants to do their own recording and streaming with volunteers, this might not be a bad option.


Prices range from $995 a week for a smartphone camera multi-angle system to $495 a week for a single consumer camera rental. The main difference in these packages for you as an organization to consider is the quality you want for your livestream.


Now, I mention these as extras, and this is where I see some weird disconnects. On the MTI FAQ about the streaming, they call these hardware packages optional. Yet, when you look on the Broadway Media site, to have access to professional features of the Mac or PC versions of their software, you get access only if you rent equipment from them or have your streaming license.


Now, that is not truly free, now is it?


Anyway, I encourage everyone to make your decisions about whether streaming is worth it to you. From a reach standpoint, I always tell people to do the livestreaming and make the investment as increasing reach and profits are always a plus. And that's worth the investment.


But there are extra costs with this, and I can't predict what the sales will be to make this worth your while. Minimum you are looking at expending around $1000 for a single camera setup (Streaming Rights from MTI, ShowTix4U's Cut, Camera Rental from Broadway Media).


For a production comparable to what Skeeterbuggins offers, with a minimum of 3-cameras (non-cell phone or consumer cameras), you are looking at spending an estimated $3000 to go through the rental process.


This might be an "ok" option for some groups who have a producer who wants to do all of the leg work to setup the streaming option. Unfortunately, under how it's currently structured, tech staff access is limited within their software as the producer only has access to the software initially. This puts the burden solely on the producer and needs to be considered when choosing how to proceed with your production.

Something to consider while making your decision is the time constraint of equipment rental and software access. While there is technical support provided if you rent equipment, I'm not sure how much they extend out to people only using the software.


As I stated, it is ultimately up to an organization on how they want to proceed with this. I personally feel all three parties are missing out on a better opportunity, but that is not my decision to make.


In essence, we look forward to continuing our relationships with our theater clients so they can continue to experience the Skeeterbuggins Difference.


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