Tony Ratings Looking Good on PBS, Bad on CBS

Tony Awards   Tony Ratings Looking Good on PBS, Bad on CBS More definitive television ratings have come in for the 1999-2000 Tony Award broadcasts, and PBS has reason to celebrate, while CBS must be rolling its eye.

More definitive television ratings have come in for the 1999-2000 Tony Award broadcasts, and PBS has reason to celebrate, while CBS must be rolling its eye.

According to a Tony spokesperson from the Keith Sherman press office, the National ratings for the public television hour received a 2.1 rating, up 50 percent from last year's 1.4 rating. In New York, the PBS Tony show scored a 5.48 rating -- up nearly 100 percent over the 1999 broadcast.

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.

Official numbers for the CBS broadcast still aren't in yet, but the Overnight ratings had CBS averaging a 7.2 rating and 11 share in 48 markets, down from 1999's 7.9 rating and 13 share in 45 markets. The New York Times reports (June 6) that the CBS show had a "fast national rating" of 6.1 -- making it the lowest-rated Tony show ever, but that preliminary number is not confirmed by Tony spokespersons. The CBS national rating in 1999 was 7.0 / 12 share (down 17 percent from the previous year).

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. The low national ratings this year 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, was 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 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), overnight ratings averaged 2.1 with a 3 share. The top 6 markets had a combined overnight 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).

-- By David Lefkowitz