The award-winning Soho Theatre (www.sohotheatre.com) produces new theatre, comedy and cabaret, working with associate artists and emerging theatre companies, as well as presenting the early work of countless UK artists - many of whom go on to become industry giants. The theatre is the go-to venue for many international artists’ London debuts.
Throughout Covid lockdowns, theatres have suffered an acute loss of their traditional, face-to-face performance income – their bread and butter.
Theatres were hit particularly hard. Income fell off a cliff, yet at the same time the costs of the venues and their actors and employees continued largely unabated.
Soho Theatre was luckier than most, in that it had already established its own limited digital revenue source, supported through Easel TV’s streaming Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS).
The challenge for Soho Theatre was to see if it could use this to support more performing artists and rapidly grow the service. To make use of the theatre’s access to talent and their professional experience in exploiting their virtual digital revenue outlet, without relying on physical audiences.
Soho Theatre’s on Demand service was completely restructured with the support of Easel TV to allow Soho Theatre to add collections and support artists, other theatres and the industry through this period.
Available globally, and well suited to bigger venues or theatre chains with regular live shows, Easel TV’s streaming PaaS solution offers an alternative virtual or digital outlet for theatres, concert or festival organisers. A streaming platform intuitive enough for theatres’ digital teams to use, manage, and administer themselves.
It has acted as an insurance policy for Soho Theatre allowing it to deliver live theatre performances and events to streaming web and mobile apps for a manageable monthly subscription fee, with ticketing and payment engine built in.
This has provided many artists with a virtual venue during the lockdown, and will go on to provide a digital revenue stream to supplement live performance income going forward.
Outcomes and Results
In March 2020, at the height of the nation’s physical confinement, Soho Theatre published Fleabag Live on its Easel TV streaming video service.
The show was organised to help fund Covid-19 charities, and the potent combination of a well-loved TV character, the atmosphere of a theatre setting, and a highly topical cause meant that the production met with great success.
As proof of the effectiveness of streaming services to help theatres “pivot” to new operating models and adopt them for both current and future revenue streams, it delivered on all fronts.
A spokesperson for Soho Theatre, commented “Coupling the right streaming solution with a savvy choice of show meant that our team was able to quickly adapt to a critical new routine for delivering theatrical authenticity to a virtual audience. Though they were trying times, we were able to defend our revenues and protect our business – and the ease of use of the service has embedded it in our revenue strategy.”