Despite fierce competition from Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Sunday night on NBC, the “51st Annual Tony Awards” on CBS scored the telecast’s highest overnight rating in at least four years — pulling in an 11.2 rating and 17 share in the 37 metered markets to improve 35% on last year’s 8.3/13 overnight average.
While the NBA Finals — airing opposite the Tonys in much of the country — easily won the night with a 17.8 rating/29 share in the major cities, the annual salute to Broadway’s finest carried a surprising ratings punch in helping CBS to a strong second-place showing.
NBC won the night with a 15.0/23 average to CBS’ 12.3/20, ABC’s 6.9/11 and Fox’s 6.8/11.
Host Rosie O’Donnell’s popularity spillover from the talkshow world was being credited Monday with much of the Tony telecast increase. O’Donnell opened the awards broadcast with a song-and-dance medley in tandem with performers from various Broadway shows.
The last time the Tony awards attracted anything close to an 11.2 rating in the overnights was 1993, when it generated an 8.8 rating/18 share. CBS’ metered-market records don’t go back beyond ’93.
The Tony ratings are expected to drop when national figures are released today.