Forget Netflix shows – the National Theatre just launched a streaming service for plays

national theatre
(Image credit: National Theatre)

There's a new TV streaming service for UK viewers, it seems. The UK's National Theatre has launched a dedicated platform for streaming recordings of plays, bringing together a host of NT Live and NT Archive performances – as well as shows from other London venues – for the first time. Welcome to National Theatre at Home.

You can view landmark National Theatre shows such as the 2018 production of Amadeus, as well as high-profile plays from the likes of the Young Vic (Yerma) or Donmar Warehouse (Coriolanus).

The service, named National Theatre at Home, is more than just a static back catalogue, too. Taking lessons from the likes of Netflix and Disney Plus, which curate and add to their libraries to maintain interest in new arrival, National Theatre at Home will be adding new plays "every month".

With both a subscription model (£8.32 per month, or £83.32 per year) and the option to 'rent' individual recordings for three days, there's certainly flexibility in how you use the service, whether you want to stream a one-off Shakespeare revival or binge the past few years of contemporary dramas put on at the decades-old venue. You can even 'gift' a show rental to a friend.

The service is packed with behind-the-scenes content, such as interviews with designers, directors and writers too – while much of this will have been available on YouTube previously, it's certainly good to have it all in one place.

You can access the service through any internet browser, though The National Theatre at Home app is also available on iOS, Android, Amazon Fire TV and Roku TV – marking quite a widespread launch, even if smart TV apps built-in to new Samsung TVs may be a while off.

Home sweet home?

In a year when many theatres have stayed closed for months, it's great to see the National Theatre adapting to a changing environment.

It's wonderful to see this British institution embrace the conveniences of digital streaming in earnest, after several years of NT Live – launched in 2009 – experimenting with live and recorded broadcasts across the country. How national is a theatre, anyway, if it's work doesn't reach across the nation?

Of course, the NT won't be the hardest hit performance venue in 2020. It's great to see the NT Archive and other landmark shows online, but the real victims of closed doors are fringe venues and shoestring-budget theatre companies, which don't have the benefit of an slick online portal to flaunt their wares.

Henry St Leger

Henry is a freelance technology journalist, and former News & Features Editor for TechRadar, where he specialized in home entertainment gadgets such as TVs, projectors, soundbars, and smart speakers. Other bylines include Edge, T3, iMore, GamesRadar, NBC News, Healthline, and The Times.