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Broadway goes digital with subscription service

"BroadwayHD," launched by Tony Award-winning producers, aims to bring the Broadway experience to your home

NEW YORK -- Broadway season ended last Sunday with the highest grossing season of all time, thanks to strong tourism and a resurgent enthusiasm for musicals.

Hamilton

According to The Broadway League, the theater industry grossed more than $1.3 billion in the 2015 to 2016 season. The widely popular musical "Hamilton," is among the top five grossing shows, raking in about $75 million.

But the average price of a ticket is hefty at $103, and not everyone can afford the experience of live theater. BroadwayHD, a recently launched on-demand streaming service, hopes to bring that enthusiasm to your home in high-definition.

"It helps people who can't afford or don't have the time to come to New York to catch these shows. They get to see it now at home comfortably," said Stewart Lane, Tony Award-winning producer and co-founder of BroadwayHD.

He and his wife, Bonnie Comley, also a Tony Award winner, launched the subscription service last October with over 100 archival plays and musicals available to stream.

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Stewart Lane and Bonnie Comley BroadwayHD

Most recently, they added big names like "Cats", "Phantom of the Opera" and "Romeo and Juliet." They've also teamed up with the Tony Awards for behind-the-scenes access of the June 12th ceremony.

"With everyone going towards streaming, we were able to aggregate this type of content in one place," Comley explained.

BroadwayHD isn't the first art form to go online. The Metropolitan Opera has been streaming operas online since 2008. Now, Met Opera on-demand has about 600 options available for streaming.

"I would love to be able to stream Broadway Theater online. I think it's a great idea," said Frank Fusco, a Brooklyn native and theater enthusiast.

But not every fan likes the idea of watching Broadway shows on a small screen. Some told CBS News it's about the experience of sitting in the old theaters and watching the performers live on stage.

There are producers in the industry who are understandably concerned about a streaming service cannibalizing ticket sales. Big Broadway hits like "Wicked," "Hamilton" and "The Book of Mormon" will not be streaming on BroadwayHD in the near future, but Comley believes the dream of streaming current shows online is still possible.

"You can never replace a live Broadway performance, but to be able to share that experience [online], it's very exciting," emphasized Lane.

BroadwayHD -- available on your laptop, mobile device, Apple TV or Chromecast -- offers an annual subscription of $169.99, or monthly for $14.99. For those who fret at the idea of a commitment, there's a two-day rental option for $7.99 per show.

Comley and Lane's big goal for BroadwayHD is to one day stream Broadway shows' opening night.

"This is a live production -- it doesn't stick around."

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