TV Ratings for Tonys Go Up, Bucking an Award-Show Trend

Posted June 11, 2018 4:25 p.m. EDT

The Tony Awards did something few awards shows manage anymore: Its ratings went up.

Sunday night’s telecast of the Tonys drew 6.3 million viewers on CBS, a modest uptick of 4 percent from the 6 million who watched last year.

The numbers are still down from the “Hamilton"-fueled 2016 Tonys, which drew a 15-year high of 8.7 million viewers.

Still, at this moment it’s notable when live-event ratings go up at all.

Nearly across the board, for the last few years, award-show numbers have been plummeting. The Oscars had its lowest ratings ever this year, and viewership for the Grammys plunged 24 percent. Even sporting events ranging from the Super Bowl to the Winter Olympics saw viewership declines.

The Tonys benefit from having a much smaller viewership than those shows, so there are fewer people to lose. The Oscars still drew 26.5 million viewers, and even the Emmys, which have seen back-to-back years of ratings lows, have an audience of more than 11 million.

Television executives have been divided over what has caused the live-event ratings declines. Some have said the numbers are cyclical, but others argue that hourslong ceremonies stuffed with commercial breaks are becoming too taxing for viewers in the streaming era. Still others say that the encroaching role of politics in such broadcasts — including regular denunciations of President Donald Trump, such as Robert De Niro’s profane comments at the Tonys — has taken its toll, as well.

Sunday’s ceremony was hosted by Josh Groban and Sara Bareilles, and the musical “The Band’s Visit” took home 10 awards.