A record 12.8 million people around the world watched a free live stream of Phantom of the Opera, 2.5 million of them using the accessible subtitles provided by Stagetext, the UK charity that provides and promotes accessible captions and subtitles for theatres and museums. The production was one of a series of free broadcasts of Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals being streamed each week on The Shows Must Go On!, a new YouTube channel set up in a deal involving the composer’s Really Useful Group and Universal. Stagetext will be subtitling the rest of the series to make them fully accessible to d/Deaf, deafened and hard of hearing audiences.
Melanie Sharpe, Chief Executive of Stagetext, hopes the move to provide subtitles is a lasting one. She said: "2.5 million people decided they needed subtitles for the spoken and sung dialogue in Phantom Of The Opera. Not all of these people will be d/Deaf but it proves the demand is there. Subtitles aren’t a luxury, they are a necessity for the 11 million d/Deaf deafened and hard of hearing people in the UK today."