The 61st Annual Tony Awards — which airs June 10 from 8-11 PM on CBS — will be again vying for television viewership (and ratings) against other Sunday-night programming. (All times ET. Check your local listings.)
Its competition includes ABC's new reality series "Fast Cars & Superstars" (pitting NASCAR racers with celebrities) followed by Game 2 of the NBA Finals of Cleveland Cavaliers vs. San Antonio Spurs; the return of FOX's "The Loop" (paired with "The Simpsons" and "Family Guy" repeats); and the second hour of NBC's "Dateline" (with repeats of "Friday Night Lights" and "Law & Order: SVU"). The Broadway broadcast has at least a slight leg up (by starting an hour earlier) on perhaps the biggest adversary it faces: the series finale of HBO's Emmy-winning "The Sopranos" (which it starts at 9 PM).
Although the airing of the ceremony has not been a big ratings grabber in recent years (not since 1997 and 1998 when Rosie O'Donnell hosted), the program has translated into big box-office jumps with ticket sales for winning shows doubling (if not tripling or more) in the days following the telecast.
Last year's hostless Tonys drew approximately 7.79 million viewers with previous years' tallies at 6.62 million (2005), 6.46 million (2004) and 7.9 million (2003). The aforementioned 1997 airing brought in nearly 10 million viewers.
Incidentally, the cable network AMC (American Movie Classics) may be inadvertently celebrating a new musical planned for next season when it airs "Young Frankenstein" twice consecutively on Tony night. (The Mel Brooks-Gene Wilder film serves as the source for the upcoming Broadway-bound musical of the same name.) The 61st Annual Tony Awards will be held June 10 at Radio City Musical Hall and televised live on CBS. For more information, visit Playbill.com's Tony Awards section or TonyAwards.com.