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Data: Google Trends; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The debut of "Hamilton" on Disney+ last Friday sent downloads of the app soaring over the weekend.

Why it matters: With theaters closed until 2021, "Hamilton" is the biggest litmus test for whether Broadway will ever be able to successfully transition some of its iconic hits.

By the numbers: Users, eager to finally watch the 11-time Tony-winning show from the comfort of their homes, helped account for a 74% increase of Disney+ app downloads in the U.S. compared to the average four weekends in June, per data from Apptopia.

  • Around the globe, the app was downloaded 47% more than the average four weekends in June.

Between the lines: Disney opportunistically moved up the release by more than a year as the pandemic left viewers with barebones viewing options — major American sports are still paused and new movie and TV show production has ground to a standstill.

  • "Hamilton" joined ESPN's "The Last Dance" documentary series about the 1990s Chicago Bulls in accelerating their release dates to capture audience demand.
  • Google Trends data indicates that interest in downloading ESPN+ when "The Last Dance" was released April came nowhere close to the Disney+ surge this weekend.

Yes, but: Don't expect the success of "Hamilton" to usher in a new era of streaming for Broadway just yet.

  • Experts note that most tapings of live performances have terrible film quality, unsuitable for a streaming audience.
  • The show was filmed in 2016 using six different camera angles and featured the original cast of "Hamilton," including the show's creator Lin-Manuel Miranda.
  • And few have the same level of cultural zeitgeist that "Hamilton" has achieved, especially as the country reckons with systemic racism dating back to the roots of its founding fathers.

The big picture: The coronavirus pandemic has been the biggest economic crisis to hit Broadway in decades. Even during past recessions, Broadway has rallied, but with theaters physically shut, the theater community has been reeling.

Go deeper

Oct 13, 2020 - Economy & Business

AMC says it's running out of cash

Photo: Daniel Knighton/Getty Images

AMC, the largest movie exhibitor in North America, said in a regulatory filing Tuesday that given its current cash burn-rate, its existing resources may run out by year's end.

Why it matters: The theater chain warned investors in July that it may not survive the pandemic. The company reopened most of its theaters in August, but with studios delaying major blockbusters, attendance has been abysmal.

39 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Beto not even best Dem against Abbott

Beto O'Rourke speaks at a rally at the Texas State Capitol in June. Photo: Sergio Flores/Getty Images

Actor Matthew McConaughey’s nine-point lead in a theoretical matchup against Greg Abbott shows just how vulnerable the hard-right Texas governor could be in a general election.

Why it matters: Abbott has won conservative accolades for his abortion, mask and vaccine bans. Axios reported Sunday that former Rep. Beto O’Rourke is preparing to announce a gubernatorial challenge — but a recent poll shows he’s not even the most popular Democrat in the state.

39 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Delayed maps upend midterm campaigns

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Midterm candidates are panicking about how the congressional maps will ultimately be drawn, with several strategists telling Axios campaigns are in limbo.

Why it matters: Candidates are unsure if the district they're targeting will remain intact or be reshaped by the process. The uncertainty is especially vexing to Democrats, who are vying to maintain their narrow margin in the House.

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