Ratings: Tony Awards Hit a 21-Year Low

This year’s broadcast of the Tony Awards — despite another winning turn as host by Neil Patrick Harris and numerous rousing musical performances — netted CBS a total audience of barely 6 million viewers, while mustering a 1.0 demo rating.

That marks a year-to-year decline of 14 percent and, by falling below 2008’s nadir (6.3 mil/1.1), a 21-year low for the kudoscast, since at least 1991.

Elsewhere on the night, both ABC’s Secret Millionaire (5.35 mil/1.5) and Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition (4.6 mil/1.5) held steady.

A Family Guy repeat (3.55 mil/1.6) netted the night’s best demo number.

NOTE: Ratings for cable programming (e.g. the Mad Men finale/True Blood opener) have not yet come in.

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43 Comments
  1. Samantha says:

    I love Neil but not enough to tune into an awards show that I have no interest in.

    • LP says:

      Too bad for you because its actually one of the most entertaining award shows of the lot. NPH was a brilliant host.

      Its a real shame that theater isn’t celebrated the way it deserves in a country that puts reality tv stars above those actors and dancers and singers that work so hard just to keep our arts culture alive.

      • Samantha says:

        I like theatre and I’m a big supporter of the arts but I don’t live anywhere near NYC or where major productions happen nor do I have the money to see any. Thus I have no interest in watching!

        • Samantha says:

          and I say this as someone who was heavily involved in band in school and whose brother is a musician.

        • JustMy2Cents says:

          I don’t understand that logic. I don’t live near NYC nor do I have much money to see any – so I take advantage of this awesome opportunity to see some bits of some great shows for free!

          • Samantha says:

            What’s not to understand? I don’t get to see the shows therefor I have no interest in watching awards given to them. Sure I might check out a performance on youtube but I’m just not interested enough to watch an entire block of television dedicated to shows I have not seen or probably won’t see.

          • Stephen Mir says:

            Exactly…! The Tony Award Show offers a great opportunity to see what’s being produced on Broadway. One might use the same logic with regard to PBS travel shows…”I’m never going to travel and so why should I watch a program about Europe, Asia, Africa and so forth…?”

        • Ann says:

          I love theater and don’t live anywhere near NYC but I watch the awards to see the performances and make notes as to which shows look interesting enough to watch when it tours the country.

    • I feel the same way. I’m wondering how it’s a suprise that the Tonys aren’t maintream with TV viewers. Aren’t all the shows being rewarded based in New York? That’s a small slice of the TV viewing population.

  2. Keith says:

    I’m a theatre person, last night revolved around True Blood and Mad Men. Maybe today I’ll catch some of it online, but I already know who won

  3. Henry says:

    Well it doesn’t help that there wasn’t a stand out production this year, such as last year’s Book of Mormon. Nor did it help that every performance was more lackluster and boring than the previous performance. It was painful to watch. Honestly, I think the Tony’s should’ve just taken the year off because there was NOTHING to promote there. The worst offender? “Ghost: The Musical.” I’m pretty sure that in another universe this would only be done as a spoof on SNL.

    • dee says:

      Very true. Usually I watch the Tonys and come away with a list of shows I’d like to see. This year? Reminded that I still want to see Book or Mormon. That’s about it. And Peter and the Starcatcher looks funny.

    • dan says:

      The Tony’s have been very entertaining over the last several years, but I agree that this year’s show was dull. The opening from “Book of Mormon” was great and NPH’s opening number with Amanday Seyfried, Patti Lupone and Jesse Tyler Ferguson was very clever and well done. It was downhill from there. The featured song from “Follies” was terrible (and skewed to a much older audience…I’m in my mid-40s and I couldn’t believe that was the song they picked to do), and the selections from both “Nice Work if You Can Get It” and “Porgy & Bess” were also not television friendly. Parts of the show were well done and the winners gave some great speeches, but it just wasn’t a production for the masses this year. I don’t believe that tv should shoot for the lowest common denominator and usually the Tony’s are a little more “highbrow” in terms of the overall production, but this year’s show was basically boring (even with several upsets in the acting awards). NPH did fine (as usual) and his closing number was funny, just not enough excitement during the middle of the show.

      • meleliot says:

        I completely agree with you. The “Book of Mormon” song was great, then it just turned really boring. And since I am not an avid theatre goer because, face it, who has $300+ to see a broadway show more than once a year? So I see a touring show, i.e., Rock of Ages, Mamma Mia, and this year, Jersey Boys. I just have no interest in watching people I don’t know in shows I don’t really know, win Tony’s. Good on them, but if a show is around long enough to tour, then I’ll consider seeing it.

    • Paige says:

      Nothing to promote? Whatever. Newsies is amazing.

      • Henry says:

        No. Newsies is an unimaginative piece of work that was a) a terrible movie and b) originally suppose to be a musical performed by high schools, colleges, and community theaters. But Disney saw that it’d be cash cow, and decided to produce it full fledged on Broadway. Newsies isn’t amazing. Newsies is fodder for the tourists. Give me something imaginative that ISN’T based on a movie, and then maybe we’ll have something “amazing.”

  4. Larissa says:

    Last night was all about TRUE BLOOD. I didn’t even watch the first hour of the Tony’s as planned. THE SIMPSONS repeat was funny. Saw NURSE JACKIE, too.

  5. Er, can someone hire NPH as the host for Emmys 2012?

  6. John Berggren says:

    I’m sorry I didn’t tune in for this. I surely meant to, but my weekend just didn’t go the way I planned.

  7. TV Gord says:

    It was a terrific show! Once I edited out the commercials and the part I didn’t want to keep, there was still an hour and seven minutes of solid entertainment. I managed to see True Blood and Mad Men, too, so I think that’s a poor excuse.

  8. Casey says:

    How is this even possible?!? I watched surrounded by NPH-loving roommates who are not avid theatre lovers, and they kept being surprised by how entertained they were and kept saying how this was soooo much better than the Oscars.

    Henry, you clearly weren’t watching closely. Once swept the awards like Book of Mormon did last year, and it deserved it – that show is a work of art.

    • John Berggren says:

      Perhaps indeed – but I think a lot of people are tired of Broadway adaptations of previously filmed material. I would not myself rush to see “Once” on broadway as I love the film and I love the Swell Season. It’s hard for me to consider anyone else doing it justice.

    • Henry says:

      Casey, I’m glad you enjoyed the show. But … it wasn’t good. By any stretch of the imagination. So you had Once, great. A show that’s about as well known as the movie it’s based on. I’m sorry, but this was a horrible year for the Tony’s. The performances alone I think hurt theatre. Anyone who tuned in to see performances by Newsies, Follies, Ghost, Leap of Faith, Hairspray, Godspell, Jesus Christ Superstar, etc., we’re given clear reasons as to why NOT to spend their hard earned money on overpriced junk. And you’re talking to a person who LOVES theatre. I love Follies and JCS and some of the other’s featured, but the Tony’s didn’t do anyone any favors.

      And sure, NPH was great. He usually is. I’m glad your roommates enjoyed him. But … he’s not the Tony’s. The Book of Mormon opening was a waste, and NPH’s own opening number paled in comparison to last years.

      • Ann says:

        I agree, the performances were not that good this year. The scene from Ghost actually made me NOT want to see the show if it goes on tour. It was awful! I was disappointed with Jesus Christ Superstar as well.

    • Ann says:

      I wish the song that Once performed for the Tonys would have been “alling Slowly.” It’s their most well-known song, they should have performed it for the tv audience.

  9. Amanda says:

    Well some markets are without CBS thanks to Dish Network and local media companies not being able to agree on money!! I would have watched. I watch the Oscars for the awards and not the “show.” However, I watch the Tonys for the “show” and not the awards.

    I have watched it online now and i enjoyed it.

  10. The Tony Awards is the awards show I look forward to most all year. Most of the other award shows, I will just look online to find out who won, but I tune in live to The Tonys to see the performances. Lat night’s show was great, even though it didn’t have the stand out moments of last year. Hugh Jackman’s wife presenting him an award was a really great moment, and NPH had some great moments as well.

  11. The Tonys is my favorite awards show. But whose bright idea was it to have it air the same night as BOTH the season premiere of “True Blood” AND the season finale of “Mad Men”? It didn’t stand a chance of having good ratings.

  12. Velvet says:

    What Tony awards?

  13. Bob says:

    Have to agree with others. Although all the other broadcast networks were offering repeats, the show really went up against the True Blood premiere, Mad Men finale, etc. on cable. The show hasn’t had decent ratings since the late 90s. The other, always-present negative for the show is that most of the country could care less about what goes on in NYC. Broadway for them is about as remote as Alaska.

  14. Jared says:

    Sunday nights are over crowded with shows..no wonder the Tony’s fell to an all time low..last night was all about TRUE BLOOD..and every other show I watched was on cable last night.

  15. susola says:

    Not at all surprised… I only tuned in briefly during commercial breaks from Mad Men and The Killing! They really need to revamp this show, it used to be really fun, now it’s just a drag!

  16. I’m a huge fan of Broadway. But the Tony awards, like so many of these award shows continually reward crap at the expense of better options. These awards are controlled by people who are completely out of touch with what America likes or wants so it’s no small wonder that these shows don’t get the ratings they want them to have. Same with theatre critics – I never read what they say because God knows I wouldn’t like anything they liked anyway!

  17. Sean C. says:

    It’s not really surprising that an awards show for a highly contained industry that is by its very nature inaccessible to most of the population doesn’t draw huge numbers.

  18. DanielleZ says:

    The Tony Awards are flat out boring. I never can watch more than 30 minutes although I do have an apprection for Broadway and the theater. But I really want to see The Book of Morman. Can’t wait. It looks fantastic.

  19. Nicole says:

    I am a non-professional sometimes actress who does community theatre in my midwest town. Broadway is still my passion and dream. The only awards show I watch is the Tony’s. With that said, here are my observations from last night: 1) If people are going to produce unoriginal ripped-from-the-movies musicals, the public will be less than interested 2) Ghost The Musical should be banished to the middle of the ocean where they found that awful Hairspray cast 3) Once was way better than I ever thought it would be 4) NPH should host every awards show.

    I would have given about anything for a collection of original work like Rent, Avenue Q, Next to Normal, In the Heights, Book of Mormon, etc. I would have preferred to have seen performances from the plays last night. Those looked amazing!

    But, I’ll be back for more next year…no matter what. Gotta support it or they’ll pull it.

  20. baddancer says:

    I didn’t think there was enough advertising for it… many of the CBS shows were long over meaning I wasn’t tuning in week to week and seeing ads, ads, ads. They need to hold it during May Sweeps or immediately following so that it doesn’t get lost in summer.

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