The Umbrella Rooms seamlessly live streamed interactive show to 70 countries

by | May 11, 2021

Photo: Pamela Raith Photography | Production: 2020 West End. Mischief Movie Night © 2009 Mischief Worldwide Ltd.

Imagine hosting 190,000 people on your live stream show without any hitches.

That was the dream The Umbrella Rooms enjoyed for the global online broadcast of Mischief Movie Night In via TicketCo Media Services.

Produced by Kenny Wax Ltd, Stage Presence Ltd and Mischief Theatre Ltd, Mischief Movie Night In has audience engagement at its heart. It has had viewers in fits of laughter since the show was launched digitally, achieving rave reviews all-round.

The improvised shows put viewers in charge of the action, allowing them to suggest the genre, location and even title of the film they want to watch. Actors then instantly deliver a full performance on the spot with title graphics, live green screen effects and more.

Everything is 100% improvised from the musical underscore and sound effects to the cameras and lights.

Online boom

The online broadcasts of Mischief Movie Night In were so popular that they saw a spike of over 18,000 new followers on social media during the streams and achieved 1,000,000 additional views on YouTube.

“Most evenings, we saw the show trending in the top ten on Twitter which was fantastic,” said Nathan Amzi, Director of The Umbrella Rooms.

“During lockdown, the shows were filmed from Mischief Comedy’s undisclosed comedy bunker, but utilising TicketCo’s infrastructure we have the ability to take our equipment anywhere in the world where we can get internet connection.

“The success was down to a real team effort and we are now utilising TicketCo with our work with regional UK theatres such as Sheffield Crucible, Chichester Festival Theatre and Regents Park Open Air Theatre.”

Super reliable

Streaming to 76,000 households was seamless for the TicketCo Media Services platform and online viewers tuned in from 70 countries including Alaska, Israel, Australia and the USA. Nathan explained sourcing a robust host was essential for the successful delivery of the show, due to its reliance on audience engagement in real-time.

He added: “Throughout the shows, issues that couldn’t be resolved thus leading to a refund can be counted on one hand. And all of those were customer-based issues we and TicketCo had no control over.

“We received no reports of dropouts or lag that could not be resolved, it was absolutely amazing. We have worked alongside many other streaming providers, we generally found 8% of viewers would contact support for some reason.

“It was a real team effort with us, Kenny Wax Ltd, Jo Hutchinson and Martin Barrow consulting with TicketCo to refine all steps along the way from booking to viewing. This meant 8% became literally nothing, it is quite remarkable.

“Having a platform with managers that listen and respond was key to its success.”

Trial and error

The Umbrella Rooms conducted plenty of research before settling on its new streaming and ticketing partner.

“We looked at so many platforms and trialled everything available to find out what worked best and got the fewest complaints from customers,” said Nathan. “TicketCo was a system that worked and could handle large volumes of people without issues. Coupled with a team who were ready to listen and adapt to our industry’s needs, such as Spektrix integration. It really has put them at the forefront of streaming live theatre.”

Reliability was a key factor to address for The Umbrella Rooms ahead of Mischief Movie Night Ins small-screen debut. Having so many improvised tech heavy elements meant there was no margin for technical faults.

Unrivalled streaming platform

The Umbrella Rooms has been monetising digital theatre for a number of years. But the company had never encountered a platform so well-tailored to multiple industries needs that ticked all its boxes before signing up to TicketCo Media Services.

There is no other platform out there that matches up to TicketCo concerning monetising performances, especially at the cost,” said Nathan. “Viewers expect easy access – the customer experience these days is vitally important.

“We’re so used to easy accessibility via Netflix and Amazon Prime where at the touch of the button we can be watching any content we wish at any time. That’s where TicketCo stands out for us, it’s so easy to access on multiple platforms.

“Furthermore, TicketCo is compatible with Apple TV, Amazon TV, Amazon Firestick and Chromecast meaning viewers don’t have to crowd around a laptop.

“Our research indicates – for theatre especially – 75% of users want to watch content on a TV rather than a laptop, so compatibility was another important element. All these features contribute to supporting the monetisation of digital events.”

The ‘Golden Hour’

Traditionally with other platforms, ticket buyers would need to purchase seats well in advance of a physical event. Then for the event to be taken off sale for codes to be generated and mailed out to customers ahead of showtime.

However, TicketCo Media Services’ integrated ticketing and broadcasting platform means sales can be taken right up until the scheduled start time of a performance. This ‘Golden Hour’ proved invaluable to the success of Mischief Movie Night In.

Nathan said: “In some cases, you can purchase tickets even once the pre-show has started. We saw that once into the run, the majority of users would book just before showtime with around 74% of all sales being purchased on a show day either for that event or a future one which is huge.

“If you are running late or looking after the children, you might want to wait until the last minute before committing to watching a live stream. Previous platforms we have worked with have not accommodated for this golden hour.

“TicketCo has those laborious processes integrated and automated which is excellent.”

Access for everyone

The Umbrella Rooms team are currently working on a plan for hybrid events.

“We’re already working with regional theatres across the UK on hybrid modelling,” said Nathan.

For Mischief Movie Night In we actually provided four streaming options. These were the standard option, a British sign-language stream, a captioned stream and audio description. We were able to open our doors to accommodate more accessibility needs in one show, that is something physical theatre struggles to accommodate for in one night. We’re also looking at modelling using geo-restriction technology to offer tailored content globally.”

The Umbrella Rooms is based in Shaftesbury Avenue, London, and incorporates studios, casting, photography, music & film all under one Umbrella.

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Written by Greig Box Turnbull

Experienced communications and strategic PR advisor, with a strong background in journalism and public relations. Founder of Fortitude Communications, director of Oxford City ice hockey club and Vice Chair of Oxford United in the Community. A former Daily Mirror journalist and Oxford United FC managing director.

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