Though the numbers are preliminary, with full national ratings expected tomorrow, the Tony Awards television ratings look to have dipped again, down even from last year's surprisingly low numbers.
According to a Tony spokesperson at the Keith Sherman press office, the two-hour CBS TV broadcast averaged a 7.2 rating and an 11 share in 48 markets. That's down from 1999's 7.9 rating and 13 share in 45 markets.
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 lower ratings are likely to come as a suprise to Tony-watchers, since the return of the show to Radio City Music Hall, with Rosie O'Donnell back as host, were seen as a way of turning around last year's dip. To be fair, the Tonys faced some steep competition, including the wildly popular game show, "Who Wants to be a Millionnaire?" (9-10 PM EST) and the 7th and deciding game of the NBA Basketball Playoffs between the Portland Trail Blazers and the L.A. Lakers (Lakers won). "The X-Files" and a new episode of HBO's "Sex in the City" series were also likely to have pulled urban viewers away from the awards ceremony.
As for the PBS broadcast, which wasn't seen in certain areas (such as San Francisco and Western Pennsylvania), ratings averaged 2.1 with a 3 share. The top 6 markets had a combined average 3.6 rating. New York was, of course, the highest-rated market, at 5.4 with an 8 share. Other major markets included L.A. (3.3 / 5 share), Las Vegas (3.5 / 5 share), Philadelphia (3.6 / 6 share), Chicago (2.2 / 3 share) and the regional Tony winner's neighbor, Salt Lake City (1.9 / 4 share). Still expected are numbers for the New York Tony ratings, and more definitive numbers for the CBS broadcast.
In 1996 B.R. (Before Rosie), the Tony rating was 8.3 with a 13 share. In 1997, the show leapt to an 11.2 rating and a 17 share, its best showing in 10 years. The following year, the Tonys registered a 10.3 rating and a 16 share.
-- By David Lefkowitz