Theses Master's

Not for Profit Theater Subscriptions and Premium Television Subscriptions: Moving into the Anywhere, Anytime, Any Platform Spheres of the Digital Age

Lamansky, Laura

At first glance, not for profit theater and premium television appear to have very little in common. Theater has been prevalent as a cultural mainstay for centuries; television has only existed for a few generations. Theater consumption is an experience shared with an audience of strangers in the dark; television can be consumed together with a few individuals or completely alone in the comfort of one’s own home. The biggest difference between the two is the fact that a live theater performance, taking place at a particular time and in a particular venue, cannot be replicated. Each performance, while similar, is in and of itself a wholly unique experience. Whereas with television, an identical show can be broadcast in one or more locations around the globe, on numerous platforms and at any time. This is the crux of their differences: one is visceral and must be experienced live and in person; the other is predetermined and beamed around the globe. Despite extreme differences, there are similarities between their distribution business models: both use subscriptions to distribute content. For not for profit theaters (which for purposes of this discussion will include traditional theater, opera and dance), this is the subscription program for a season of productions. The subscribers are a theatre’s audience base and are virtually guaranteed admission to each show; single ticket buyers can gain admission if tickets are available once the subscribers have been satisfied. For premium television, subscribers are the sole focus of the business model and are the only customers who have access to the content. This discourse will be focused on how both industries use subscription audiences to maintain their respective financial structures. Chapter 1 will begin by discussing a brief history of the not for profit theater movement and subscriptions in not for profit theaters. Then, Chapter 2 will provide a concise description of the history of television, which led to the creation of the premium television subscription model. Chapter 3 will compare the similarities between not for profit theater subscriptions and premium television subscriptions. Chapter 4 will focus in detail on the Met HD Live program and the NT Live program as alternatives to the traditional distribution model of theater. Then, Chapter 5 will examine the HBO Go and Netflix models for distributing premium television as opposed to the traditional technology of a television set. The conclusion will attempt to answer what lies in store for these two art forms in the future and how technology and alternative distribution models will affect them.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
M.F.A., Columbia University
Published Here
September 30, 2015