Tonys, NBA rate well, lose steam

Awards garner 10.3 rating, 16 share in Nielsens

The Tony Awards have cooled a bit from last year’s sizzling Nielsen results, but still walked off with their second-best overnights in five years.

Meanwhile, NBC’s coverage of basketball’s NBA finals is losing some drama and ratings momentum, but could still be headed to a record average if the Utah Jazz can rebound and give the Chicago Bulls a serious challenge for the league crown.

In overnight results, CBS’ Sunday coverage of the Tony Awards has averaged a 10.3 rating, 16 share in the 40 markets metered by Nielsen.

That’s down 8% from last year’s stellar 11.2/17 overnights, breakthrough results generated when Rosie O’Donnell took over hosting chores for the first time. This year, with O’Donnell still at the podium, the Tonys went home with their second-best overnights since 1993 (10.4/18).

If the ratio of last year’s overnights-to-nationals falloff holds this year for the urban-skewing Tonys, Sunday’s telecast will score roughly an 8.8/14 in national figures to be released Tuesday. That would make it the second-best Tony rating in six years, and still a spectacular 35% better than the 1996 results.

CBS’ top Tony rating came in New York (17.4/26, up 14% over last year). L.A. gave the awards show a 3% increase up to an 11.7/19.

The drama of the NBA playoffs is declining quickly, as the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls have taken control of the series with wins in Games 2 and 3, including a Game 3 triumph that was the most lopsided in NBA playoff history. Nielsens have cooled accordingly, with Friday’s game two averaging a national 16.6/31 and Sunday’s game three scoring a 16.8/28 in metered markets.