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Tonys 2013: Neil Patrick Harris gets largest audience since 2009

Tonys 2013: Neil Patrick Harris gets largest audience since 2009
Host Neil Patrick Harris and casts of Broadway shows perform during the opening number. (Evan Agostini / Invision / AP)

Sunday night’s Tony Awards, hosted by Neil Patrick Harris, posted a strong ratings gain over last year to reach its biggest audience since 2009.

The stage awards show's ratings increased 20% to 7.2 million viewers, according to preliminary numbers from Nielsen.

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Still, the ceremony on CBS came in second place in the ratings race Sunday, finishing behind Game 2 of the NBA Finals.

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This year's Tonys, broadcast from Radio City Music Hall in New York, picked up 20% more viewers than last year in the adults 18-49 demographic and 14% more in the adults 25-54 age group.

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Harris’ performance, his fourth appearance as host, was well-received by critics, with Los Angeles Times scribe Robert Lloyd calling him "invaluable" and "unshakable." 

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Wrote Lloyd: “Harris was never too long out of view, and when he was around, he was put to good use. He was licked by Sandy, from ‘Annie,’ and licked back. He sang — with Andrew Rannells, Laura Benanti and Megan Hilty (from ‘Smash’), theater actors who had TV shows canceled this season — of the dialectical tension between those forms.”

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"Kinky Boots" took the title of best new musical at the Tonys and won six awards total. "Matilda, The Musical" won four prizes.

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Twitter: @rfaughnder

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