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The impact of streamed, screened and on-demand broadcasts on live theatre and touring is to be assessed by a new study.

Antigone stream

A new piece of research into the impact of ‘live to digital’ streaming on live theatre, touring and new audiences has been launched to fill in “knowledge gaps” in the marketplace and “inform policy and investment”.

Led by AEA Consulting, and joint-funded by Arts Council England, UK Theatre and the Society of London Theatre, the £40k research will consist of interviews, focus groups and a survey of both audiences and organisations.

The intention is to look across the spectrum of streamed theatre – from event cinema to on-demand TV broadcasts and screenings in ‘alternate venues’ - and work out, in the context of changing patterns of leisure time and a tighter economic climate:

  • How to support smaller players entering the market
  • If there is displacement from attending live theatre or independent cinema
  • If ‘Live to Digital’ is having an impact on touring patterns
  • Strategies for developing new audiences
  • What support – if any – distribution needs.

AEA Consulting’s Becky Schutt said the areas of focus were the result of conversations with key stakeholders and the questions were “fully tested” before being rolled out. She added her hope that the research would prompt discussion on how organisations can draw creative inspiration from streaming, and how to “confront both real and perceived barriers to entry”.

Second phase

The new research builds on a previous report by ACE and the British Film Institute (BFI) which assessed the available data about screening. In 2015, IHS predicted that event cinema would reach $1bn in revenues worldwide by 2019.

One of the conclusions was that event cinema audiences tend to be more heavily engaged in the arts than those who haven’t seen any live screenings, and individuals who have viewed live screenings “are more likely to live in a city than those who haven’t”.

In addition, event cinema viewers are “more likely to live in London and the surrounding areas than elsewhere in the country”.

The findings from the new research are due to be published in the summer.

The surveys close on 1 May and can be found here for organisations:

And here for audiences: