America prefers basketball to theatre, overnight ratings indicate. According to the zap2it.com website, which lists preliminary Nielsen ratings for the three major networks and Fox, NBC — which broadcast the seventh and final game of the NBA Championships beginning at 7 PM — won the overall Sunday night ratings with an 11.4 rating/19 share. The peacock network was followed by CBS — which broadcast the Tonys at 9 PM — with a 6.0 rating/10 share, ABC (4.7/8) and FOX (3.6/6). The CBS evening also included "60 Minutes" and "The Education of Max Bickford."
The 56th Annual Antoinette Perry "Tony" Awards were televised live on PBS (8-9 PM) and CBS (9-11 PM), with the PBS telecast officially titled "The First Ten Awards: Tonys 2002." Former Tony Award winners Bernadette Peters and Gregory Hines hosted the evening, which awarded Best Play honors to The Goat and the Best Musical Tony to Thoroughly Modern Millie.
At 9 PM, when the Tony Awards broadcast began on CBS, the show edged out its ABC and FOX competition with a 5.6/10 rating. ABC received a 5.6/9 for its premiere of "The Hamptons," and FOX scored a 3.8/6 for "Looking for Love." Zap2it.com does not list hourly ratings of shows in progress, so NBC figures for that time period were not available.
This year's 5.6/10 Tony Awards rating is down significantly from last year's 7.3/11 share. The 2000 broadcast scored a 6.2/10, and 1999 was 7.0/12. A single rating point represents roughly one million households; a share shows the percentage of televisions being used at the time. This translates into roughly 5.6 million homes taking in the Tonys Sunday night, with 10 percent of available TV sets tuned in.
Not only did NBC win the evening, but it also captured the most viewers aged 18 to 49, receiving an 8.6 rating among that demographic, followed by ABC and FOX, which each tied with a 2.6 and CBS (1.6). Last season, CBS won the night overall with an 8.7/14, with NBC at 8.5/14 and ABC at 6.6/11. The juggernaut that was "The Producers" may have helped the Tony ratings last season; although there were many close races this season, no musical produced as much fanfare as the Mel Brooks musical, which was adapted from his hit film of the same name.
These numbers are preliminary assessments; when final numbers are released, ratings may be significantly different.