In TV’s infancy, it was a given that Americans would collectively gather in their living rooms to watch Milton Berle, Jackie Gleason and, a decade later, Ed Sullivan. Then came the must-see “water cooler” shows: Cheers, Seinfeld, The Sopranos and GOT, to name a few. Today, with the myriad of available streaming options, all of that certainty, like those shows, is a relic of the past. With unlimited choices as to what to watch and how to watch, our only dilemma is finding the time to watch it all.
Garnering high ratings in real time is still a given for the Super Bowl (thus the exorbitant cost of airing a 30-second spot), but other than that it’s a huge gamble. And that is why the airing Friday night, July 3, of the original cast performing the record-breaking Broadway production of Hamilton on Disney Plus is destined to be as historic as the man himself.
Alexander Hamilton, a little-known but hugely historic figure in the birth of America, was the reading material for Lin-Manuel Miranda on his honeymoon (seriously!) and the groundbreaking result swept the Tonys, grossing more than half a billion dollars in NY alone. And that doesn’t take into account the world tours and soundtrack downloads. However, unlike the Super Bowl, many people never got to see his masterpiece. Having seen it live, I can say without exaggeration that it was life-changing. And, it changed Broadway. When Lin-Manuel posted a trailer for Hamilfilm on Twitter, within 24 hours it got over 4.2 million views and 220,000 likes.
As a projected marketing coup, masses are expected to sign up for Disney Plus in a way that could change the larger world of streaming, which up until now has been about individualized content designed for binging. Hamilton is the exact opposite in that it is anticipated to bring back the idea of an entire family watching the same content – together! Statistically, if Disney Plus attracts 3 million new subscribers as a result of this single performance, it will amount to over $200 million in revenue. That’s even more profitable than a movie theater run worth $400 million, since the studio keeps only 50-60 percent of receipts. In a time when production of what would be the new binge-worthy shows is at a standstill, this could very well become the new norm.
Friday night, on the eve of our independence, with no live fireworks to view under the stars on a picnic blanket, we will not only celebrate our history as a country – we just might break records for ratings and viewership.
I am Alexander Hamilton! Happy 4th of July to all!