Mirroring the Tonys Awards performance on CBS, the first hour of the ceremony, which aired 8-9 PM EST, Sunday, June 7, on PBS, also slipped slightly in the ratings. The broadcast charted a 2.0 rating and 3 share, just below last year's 2.2 rating and 4 share, according to PBS spokesperson Donna Williams.
At WNET, PBS' New York affiliate, the program scored a 4.9 rating and an 8 share, also slightly under last season's 5.4 rating and 8 share. Nevertheless, Williams declared the showing was still "great."
The CBS broadcast also dipped slightly in the ratings from its phenomenal rebound in 1997, posting a 10.3 rating and a 16 share in overnight numbers. In 1997, the show touted an 11.2 rating and a 17 share, its best showing in 10 years. Still, the numbers were considerably over the 1996 showing of 8.3 and a 13 share.
In a replay of last June, the Tonys' main competition was an NBA playoff game between the Chicago Bulls and the Utah Jazz, which won the night with a 16.8 rating and a 28 share. Particularly throwing off the Tonys showing were the numbers from Chicago, where hometown fan pushed the Bulls to an incredible 51 rating and 71 share, sending the Tony to less than a 6 rating and an 8 share. Still, the combination of hostess Rosie O'Donnell and venue Radio City Music Hall seemed to again do the trick for the once-beleaguered awards ceremony. CBS was pleased with the ratings. "It's a good number," said David Childs of the network's communications department. "Especially when you consider it was against the basketball playoffs."
A single rating point represents 980,000 households, which translates into some 10 million homes taking in the Tonys. A share shows the percentage of televisions being used at the time. The overnight ratings cull figures from the nation's 40 largest markets (three more cities than last year). The national ratings, which collect numbers from many more markets, will be available tomorrow. -- By Robert Simonson