Despite the Doubt and Hate, Tony Awards Ratings Went Up This Year


Leading up to the 72nd Tony Awards, many prognosticators out there were assuming that without a "Hamilton-ish" crossover hit or The Band's Visit's likely dominance, the TV ratings would drop through the basement. 

How wrong they were. 

Just a day after the big night, it was reported that the TV ratings actually went up from last year's awards. Sunday night’s telecast of the Tonys drew 6.3 million viewers on CBS, an improvement of 4% from the 6 million who watched last year.

It's also encouraging that the Tony Awards was the only EGOT telecast whose ratings rose this past year. Both the Oscars and Emmys saw back-to-ratings lows and the Grammys saw a 24% dip in viewership this year.

While the Tonys still lost out to "Celebrity Family Feud", I would still call that a victory, both in the literal and symbolic. There were plenty of folks who have been bemoaning Broadway for the past year and how the Tony Awards would suffer from it. I'd like to think that they have been proven wrong with most of the awards going to the right people and ratings being up from last year which had the incredibly popular crossover hit, Dear Evan Hansen, heavily featured.

The Tony Awards telecast is always going to be a divisive issue when it comes to theatre fans. Some love them, some loathe them and some are just looking for another way for them to be presented. But, my argument will always be - if you want to change the Tonys, you have to watch the Tonys. 

If the awards boast a high viewing audience, then they have the clout to demand more from the networks broadcasting them.  CBS's head honcho, Les Moonves, has said for years that as long as he's in charge, the Tonys will always have a home at CBS. But losing money on the ceremony year after year is only going less tolerable as they go along.

So it's fine if you want to invite 30 people to your viewing party. Just make sure to ask they leave their TV's on the show before they come over.