[Case Study] Making Theatre History with Daddy Long Legs

On Thursday, December 10th, Livestream and The Davenport Theatre made theatre history. Daddy Long Legs—a musical directed by the Tony Award-winning Director of Les Misérables—was the first Broadway or Off-Broadway production to be livestreamed online for free. Fans were able to watch from anywhere in the world, turning an in-house audience of 149 into a global audience of more than 150,000. That’s the equivalent of 2.7 years of audiences at The Davenport Theatre.

The man behind the history-making event? Ken Davenport, the owner of The Davenport Theatre and the producer of Daddy Long Legs The Musical. Daddy Long Legs Live wasn’t the first Livestream experience for Ken. “I was inspired by my own wedding,” Davenport said in a phone interview. “Livestreaming my event was simple to do. Family and friends who weren’t able to come to my wedding were able to tune in from all around the country and watch.”

Broadway and Off-Broadway productions have fans from the four corners of the world without the option to travel to New York City. “The digital distribution of theatrical content is one of the biggest audience development tools that we’re not using in the industry,” Davenport said. “Hopefully this will be the first of many.” According to A Producer’s Perspective, Daddy Long Legs viewers hailed from 135 different countries, including Thailand, Brazil, Guam, Denmark, Bulgaria, the United Arab Emirates and Senegal.

Davenport decided to livestream the production to engage with fans, increase awareness, quickly spread word-of-mouth, and generate future ticket sales. “Theatre tickets are sold through word-of-mouth. It’s hard to generate word of mouth when our production seats 1,000 people in a week,” Davenport said. “In one night, I can get the equivalent of a year, two years, or more worth of audiences. It’s a giant catalyst for my word-of-mouth. We’re creating a tidal wave of word-of-mouth.”

The result? #DaddyLongLegsLive trended nationally on Twitter and a tidal wave showed up at The Davenport Theatre. In the weeks since the event, Daddy Long Legs has experienced an increase in ticket sales and a 484% increase in CD sales. Daddy Long Legs Live proved that there is a global interest and proven benefit to livestreaming theatre. Fans from around the world can watch shows they were never able to see before and theatres can use a new marketing tool to generate future sales.