Hyped by the presence of Broadway phenomenon “Hamilton,” the 70th annual Tonys telecast on CBS Sunday night had an average audience of 8.73 million viewers, or the most in 15 years, according to an official count by CBS. In addition, the network added: “On WCBS-TV, New York, the broadcast averaged 1.23 million viewers.”
By any measure, or any count, the Tonys had a big night with some help from “Hamilton” which ended up with a whopping 11 wins. The broadcast also erased years of decline and a long-held suspicion that perhaps this awards program really did not have much of a pull beyond the great show business centers of New York and Los Angeles.
But the 70th was not any normal awards ceremony and Sunday, June 12, was not a normal day. CBS and the American Theatre Wing did announce earlier in the day that the broadcast would be dedicated to victims of the shooting in Orlando, Florida. How the atrocity would be addressed and how it would affect the deportment of nominees and winners instantly catapulted this program to news status.
Moreover, CBS, in announcing the ratings for Sunday, also made prominent mention of James Corden, who hosted the three-hour telecast. He too was most likely a key factor as well while his energetic medley opener established that these Tonys would also stick with the script too.
The ratings were the best since the 2001 Tonys, which were hosted by Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick, stars of “The Producers” which walked away with a record 12 awards during that ceremony.