The Opera Platform – Six month review

The Opera Platform has been running for 6 months. While it is early to draw conclusions, we at Opera Europa are confident that the first phase of our European streaming project has been a success. The audience numbers alone – over half a million visits – are extremely encouraging.

 

An appetite for live streams and a sustained interest for replay
In its first 6 months, The Opera Platform has streamed nine showcase operas (listed below); ‘showcases’ are productions from the partner theatres, which have been subtitled in six languages (English, French, German, Italian, Spanish and Polish) and are available for six months as video on demand. These productions make up the core of our European opera season.

La traviata    Teatro Real, Madrid
Król Roger    Royal Opera House, London
Kullervo     Finnish National Opera, Helsinki
Valentina    Latvian National Opera, Riga
Götterdämmerung     Wiener Staatsoper, Vienna
Alcina     Festival d’Aix-en-Provence
La bohème     Den Norske Opera and Ballet, Oslo
Powder her Face    La Monnaie/De Munt, Brussels
Aida    Teatro Regio Torino

There appears to be an appetite among audiences to watch streams live. Graph 1. shows the monthly number of video views for our full length performances. The general pattern confirms that audience numbers are highest at the moment of the live (cf: peaks at live date) and that there is sustained interest in these showcases in the following months (cf: sustained and mostly untapering lines for video on demand replay).


Graph 1. Video views by month between May and October 2015 for each showcase opera

It is a testament to both enduring popularity of La traviata and its fine David McVicar production from Teatro Real in Madrid in May, and the impact of the launch media campaign that this production was viewed 97 000 times in the first month and almost as many time again since: 188 000 views for La traviata on The Opera Platform over 6 months.


Opera live, opera in context
From these high viewing figures for the nine showcases, we take comfort that audiences have understood that The Opera Platform is home to a unique season of live opera. While watching opera online is the principle attraction of our offer, audiences have understood that the site also offer over 100 videos about the context in which operas are created: trailers, musical explanations, interviews, ‘about the company’ films and behind the scenes insights. As the content grows, the challenge is to find ways in which to lead users to this material. Our video ‘Collections’ (thematic grouping of related material) will continue to be key signposts guiding audiences to the diverse content on the platform.


Graph 2. Video views by type: showcases opera and contextual videos

 

As we work to consistently improve this editorial line, we expect to increase audiences for the additional or ‘bonus’ material. Graph 2. also shows the impact of the launch campaign, a dip in audiences during the month of August when no live stream was on offer, and a significant increase in audiences for the months of September and October.


Global audiences for European Opera
Over the last 6 months, 79% of the audience for The Opera Platform is based in Europe, with 21% coming from the rest of the world. Germany, UK, France, Spain and Italy are respectively the European countries with the largest following for the platform. On a number of different months, audiences in North America represent over 10% of the audience (See Graph 3.).


Graph 3. Geographic origin of visitors: Europe and rest of the world

 

Communication – online works best
Significant coverage at launch (which included articles in The Guardian (UK), The New York Times and features on national television in Finland) gave The Opera Platform excellent exposure at its outset. Our media partner ARTE contributed by setting up reciprocal promotion between ARTE Concert and The Opera Platform, encouraging audiences to explore both platforms. Opera Europa has in parallel led a campaign with Europe’s specialist opera press. Our weekly e-mailings reach 5 000 subscribers with an impressive average ‘open rate’ of 70%. Facebook is the most important social media to drive traffic to the site, according to our analysis of the Top 10 source of visits. Overall, the platform is dependent on the efforts of the partners in the project, who have worked hard to communicate the season to the audiences… some times in rather original ways.

 

Committed contributors who are learning
The commitment of the contributing opera companies is also a key feature in the success of the platform to date, and not only in the area of communication. A number of the partners have shown considerable persistence in realising their first ever live streams; just in the last two months on The Opera Platform, Teatro Regio Torino and the Polish National Opera streamed operas for the first time. The Opera Platform is concerned with professional development and we should, even after only six months, celebrate the commitment of the partners in concluding difficult negotiations to enable the streaming of productions for the benefit of audiences worldwide. You can read more about the Opera Europa Rights Manifesto.

A final word of acknowledgement to the other Opera Europa members who have contributed content to the platform. Surely seeing more opera companies contribute will be a key indicator of our success in the future, alongside a growing audience. 

 

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