'Hamilton' drives Tony Awards telecast to its best ratings in 15 years

Broadway’s acclaimed smash “Hamilton” pushed the ratings for the annual Tony Awards telecast on Sunday to its highest level in 15 years.

The ceremony from the Beacon Theatre that aired from 8 to 11:15 p.m. averaged 8.73 million viewers, an increase of 35% over the 2015 ceremony. The preliminary figure from Nielsen does not include the last 15 minutes of the broadcast, which aired outside of prime time.

The Tony Awards telecast is a must for theater fans but has typically been a modest ratings attraction when compared with other major awards shows. But it clearly received a boost from offering performances by the cast of “Hamilton,” Lin-Manuel Miranda’s groundbreaking hip-hop musical on the nation’s founding that has become the most coveted ticket on Broadway.

“Hamilton”  won 11 awards, one short of tying the record set by “The Producers” in 2001, the last time the Tony Awards had such a large TV audience, 8.94 million.

The 70th Tony Awards drew an 11.4 rating and 18 share in the New York TV market, averaging 1.23 million viewers. It’s the largest hometown audience for the Tonys since Nielsen started using people meters to measure local market audiences in 2004.

In Los Angeles, where the telecast airs on a delay, the show scored a 7.4 rating and a 13 share — up 42% over 2015 — with an audience of 582,000. The rating and share were the same in Chicago — up 23% over last year — with an average audience of 384,000. It was the largest audience in both markets since 2004.

Ratings more than doubled year-over-year in smaller TV markets such as Nashville, Hartford-New Haven, Conn., and Jacksonville, Fla.

The ceremony, hosted by James Corden of CBS’ “The Late Late Show” and a Tony winner himself, included big-name presenters Oprah Winfrey and Barbra Streisand. Glenn Close also appeared as Hillary Clinton in one comedy bit.

Presenters and winners also paid tribute to the victims of the early Sunday morning shooting rampage at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., which had dominated the news in the hours leading up to the telecast. 

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The sincere and real Tony Awards rebuke the Orlando shooting with laughs, music and love

What those 11 Tony Awards for 'Hamilton' mean for Broadway and the art of theater

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