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National Theatre Blog

The road to National Theatre at Home

Emma Keith, Director of Digital Media, tells us about the evolution of National Theatre at Home 

In March 2020, theatres across the UK lowered their curtains and dimmed their lights as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The National Theatre swiftly turned to finding ways to continue to share its work with as many people as possible. In response, for the very first time, National Theatre productions were available to watch at home for free on YouTube.  

Over three months, 16 productions were watched over 15 million times in 173 countries around the world. Our reach increased enormously and 40% of viewers were under 35 years old. During this period our audiences and supporters also very generously donated to the National Theatre and our co-producing partners. 

We were overwhelmed by the response and wanted to find a way to continue to provide theatre digitally to our global audience. We are very lucky that as we have been broadcasting to cinemas worldwide as part of our NT Live programme, we have built up a back catalogue of theatre productions, both from the NT and our partner theatres.  We also wanted to find ways to support the freelance workforce and invest back into the theatre industry. We completely changed the way that we worked and brought ideas we thought were for the future into the present.  

In December 2020, with the support of Bloomberg Philanthropies, we launched a new streaming platform which allows theatre lovers to subscribe and enjoy unlimited productions or pay to access single plays. National Theatre at Home is available to watch anytime, anywhere - with more fantastic plays added every month.  

Bloomberg Philanthropies support of National Theatre at Home is anchored in our shared commitment to support the recovery of the UK Theatre industry post Covid-19, to democratize access to theatre for all and to engage a global audience with the best of British theatre. 

Each performance is filmed in front of a live audience, and in high definition. Plus, for the first time ever, we are releasing a treasure trove of plays from the National Theatre Archive. All productions are captioned and have the option for subtitles to be turned on and off. We also offer a vast provision of titles with Audio Description.  

In the last few months, the response to National Theatre at Home has exceeded our expectations. We are excited about the future and how we can keep evolving our offer, sharing more theatre and growing our audiences globally.  

National Theatre at Home is an exclusive collection of unforgettable British theatre for you to watch any time, anywhere: