Many musical artists and performances such as ballets and operas have been shown as prerecorded material on cinema screens all over the world. They have even been broadcast live in the US for a few years, mostly consisting of performances from The Metropolitan Opera.
Does Live Streaming to Cinemas Work as a Concept?
MusicScreen is unique in the UK in that it streams live performances to cinemas worldwide. The most recent show was by Keane performing their 'Best of' album live from the Goya Theatre in Berlin on November 6th. This show was streamed to over 450 venues worldwide, many of which sold out.
The performance by the band and the technical team was superb, with a beautiful venue and a small, personal gathering of a few hundred. We viewed the show from cinema seats in Central London. The audience in our theatre was relatively calm, obviously not sure what to expect, but as the show began with a prerecorded interview with the band, the clapping and cheering began.It seems that some of the effect of the crowd on the screen was reaching those around us. However, the atmosphere remained reasonably subdued throughout the entire show, albeit with half the theatre singing and cheering along with the audience in the venue for a few of the songs.
Whilst this description may sound slightly underwhelming, that was one of hundreds of theatres. There are masses of photos and videos online, all of other theatres worldwide including Argentina and Monterrey, with completely packed out theatres, audiences on their feet, singing along to the screen. Some can even be seen with their own banners similar to those waved by fans in the live venue. It is clear that these fans felt the same effect as those in the Berlin venue.
It is arguable that the technical side of the production gets in the way of the cinema audiences receiving the full effect of a live show. It's possible to lose signal, and the limitations of camera angles and audio volume would possibly not give the audience the same experience as they would feel as if they were in the venue. It's a difficult task to recreate the same atmosphere and feeling as being surrounded by other fans in the same room as your favourite artist.
However, when that artist is on the other side of the world it seems to be more than satisfactory as a compromise. Whilst the experience in our cinema screen in London was excellent if slightly subdued, this should not be taken as a general reaction to streaming live performances. What can be learnt from this example is that the pros are cons of streaming live are the same as any live venue –
So long as you can get a full audience of fans that are excited to be there, they are the ones that create the effect of being there.