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London’s National Theater Launches SVOD Service

National Theater
(Image credit: National Theater)

Britain’s Royal National Theatre has already been successful in transitioning its live content to on-demand streaming in the pandemic, generating more than 15 million views on YouTube earlier this year posting recorded versions of productions, including popular comedy popular comedy “One Man, Two Guvnors.”

Now, the National Theater, as it’s stylistically referred to in the U.S., is taking its act to the competitive SVOD market, launching on Tuesday a new $12.99-a-month subscription streaming service, National Theatre at Home, that will start out 11 of the group’s archival productions. The group also lets users rent digital versions of its works for $9.99 a show. 

Productions available for viewing include Michael Longhurst’s 2016 play Amadeus, which recounts Mozart’s rivalry with Antonio Salieri; Nicholas Hytner’s 2009 iteration of Racine’s Phèdre starring Helen Mirren; and the kid-targeted I Want My Hat Back

With its work posted on YouTube from April - July, the National Theater had asked for donations, and it generated about $467,000. But with the theater shuttered a second time amid the pandemic, a greater revenue return was required. 

“It’s not sustainable in the long term to keep it free,” Rufus Norris, artistic director of the National Theater, to The New York Times

National Theatre at Home seems to have all of the major mobile and OTT platforms covered at launch, touting app support for Apple, Google, Amazon and Roku devices. 

Beyond the National Theater's success on YouTube, the market for on-demand streaming of recorded stage productions seems robust, at least for popular work. In its first 10 days on Disney Plus last summer, for example, Hamilton generated around 2.7 million views, according to smart TV analytics company Samba TV.