Tony Awards 2012: Telecast, in continued decline, slides toward lows

Neil Patrick Harris and friends at the 66th Tony Awards at the Beacon Theatre on Sunday.
(Theo Wargo / Getty Images)

The Tony Awards on CBS has solidified its position as the lowest-rated broadcast of the major entertainment awards shows.

Sunday’s broadcast of Broadway’s biggest night brought in just 6 million television viewers, according to preliminary figures from Nielsen. That’s down from 6.9 million viewers in 2011. Last year’s telecast was hurt by the NBA finals, but Sunday’s ceremony didn’t face any such competition for viewers.

The Associated Press reported that Sunday’s telecast was the second-lowest-viewed Tony Awards since 1988. The ceremony was broadcast from The Beacon Theatre in New York.

The Tony Awards has seen its ratings fall steadily in recent seasons. Last year’s 6.9 million viewers was down from 7 million in 2010. That figure was down from 7.4 million viewers in 2009.


To put the numbers in perspective, the Academy Awards show on ABC drew an estimated 39.3 million viewers this year, up slightly from the previous year. Even this year’s Academy of Country Music Awards, on CBS, did better than the Tonys, attracting about 13 million viewers.

CBS tried this year to stoke viewer interest by including performances from last year’s big winner,"The Book of Mormon,"and the name-recognition title “Ghost: The Musical.” But not even the return of host Neil Patrick Harris could reverse the broadcast’s steady slide.

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