If You Want to Change the Tonys, You Have to Watch the Tonys

Chris Peterson

Since the Tony Awards aired last week, there has been much criticism over how the ceremony was broadcast. While the criticism is well deserved, as I pointed out in a previous column, I can at least understand why CBS producers felt they could cut award presentations in favor of failed comedic bits and Josh Groban, it's because not enough of you are watching.

This year marked the lowest ratings for the Tony Awards telecast....ever. Only 6 Million viewers tuned in to see Fun Home win Best Musical.

When compared to the other "EGOT" awards shows over the past year, it looks like this:

Oscars - 36.6 Million 

Grammys - 25.3 Million

Emmys - 15.6 Million

Tonys - 6 Million

In truth, the Tonys also trail the Golden Globes, People's Choice Awards, MTV Music Video Awards, Billboard Music Awards and both County Music Award shows in viewers. The Tonys actually rank somewhere just above the Teen Choice Awards and the ESPYS.....the freaking ESPYS....

On Sunday, the Tonys barely had more viewers than “Dateline: My Kid Would Never Do That” and was blown away by a non-series decisive Game 2 of the NBA Finals. 

So with numbers like these, CBS becomes fully justified in taking whatever creative liberties they want in order to salvage some sort of profit. The only away to stop this from happening? You have to watch the show. I'm not talking about on Youtube the next day, I'm talking about sitting down at 8 pm on the first weekend in June for three hours and watch the entire ceremony. 

In all honesty, I'm not that surprised by the numbers. This past season on Broadway was the year of critical darlings rather than blockbuster, transcending pop culture shows. And without an A-List host, the average viewer is certainly not going to tune in. 

But what's even more troubling is that, given the slate of shows next year, I don't see this problem getting any better. 

Hamilton is going to be the talk of the town this coming season, but will its likely Tony dominance lure enough viewers? We will see.

But Hamilton can't do it alone. The ceremony needs a great "trend-worthy" host as well. If I had to guess who CBS will turn to next year, if not Hugh or NPH, it will be James Corden. He's already a CBS employee and actually has a Tony of his own. 

So if you're sick and tired of seeing the Tonys aired this way, watch the Tonys live. It's the only way the show will ever have the ratings pull to be able to dictate to the network how they want the show to be broadcast. If you don't then nothing will ever change and more historic moments will be seen on Youtube versus being seen live.