The Tonys’ annual three-hour berth on national network TV carries major weight in the New York theater industry, repping one of the most important marketing opportunities of the year for Broadway as a brand and for the productions showcased, particularly the musicals.
CBS, meanwhile, can tout its ongoing commitment to the performing arts. Net has broadcast the Tonys since 1978 and also reserves an annual slot for the Kennedy Center Honors.
Ratings for the Tony broadcast are often on the low side, with the inherently local nature of Manhattan-based Broadway often counted as an obstacle in attracting national awareness of the latest industry offerings. The June kudocast also regularly faces tough competish from the NBA Finals.
The most recent ceremony, which featured a slew of Hollywood names including host Sean Hayes and winners Denzel Washington and Catherine Zeta-Jones, was down to about 7 million viewers following the three-year high of 7.4 million posted by the 2009 outing.
Last year’s ceremony, hosted by Neil Patrick Harris, recently picked up Emmys for special class program and for writing for variety, music or comedy special. Kudocast also picked up trophies in 2008, 2007 and 2005.
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