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Tony Awards’ Viewership Slips Lower

Sunday’s show had the second-lowest viewership for a Tonys telecast since records have been kept.

Sunday’s broadcast of the Tony Awards averaged 3.5 million viewers, a decline of about 15 percent from last year, according to preliminary ratings data from Nielsen.

Though not a huge drop from the 2023 show, which reached an average of 4.1 million viewers, the viewership was the second lowest for a Tonys telecast since records have been kept.

The decline bucks a trend from other major award shows and live events, which have been piling up ratings gains in recent years. The Oscars (19.5 million viewers in March) and Grammy Awards (16.9 million in February) have recorded three consecutive years of ratings growth, as they climb out of the record lows of the early 2020s.

It also means the Tonys missed an opportunity to best the Emmys. In January, the strike-delayed Emmy Awards notched just over four million viewers, coming dangerously close to the Tonys. A decade ago, the Emmys had eight million more viewers than the Tonys. The next Emmys ceremony is in September.

The Tonys, which aired on CBS, featured performances by Alicia Keys and Jay-Z and included major wins for “Stereophonic,” “The Outsiders,” “Appropriate” and “Merrily We Roll Along.” The event received warm reviews from critics, including Jesse Green of The New York Times, who called it “a vast improvement” over previous years. Ariana DeBose hosted the show for a third consecutive time.

Given their relatively low viewership, the Tonys have long been more of a prestige play than a big moneymaker for CBS, which has been broadcasting the awards since the late 1970s. CBS is signed up to air the Tonys through 2026.

The event is also a critical marketing tool for Broadway, which is still struggling to match attendance figures from before the pandemic.

The least-watched Tonys remain the pandemic-altered 2021 telecast, when fewer than three million people watched. The most-watched recent Tonys was the 2016, “Hamilton”-fueled show, which notched more than eight million viewers.

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