Tony vs. Tonys? Awards' lowest turnout in years

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NEW YORK -- Whether it was competition with Tony Soprano's farewell or some other factor, Sunday night's Tony Awards fell to the show's lowest ratings since at least 1992.

The three-hour CBS telecast averaged 6.2 million viewers and a 1.2 rating/3 share in adults 18-49, according to preliminary estimates released Monday by Nielsen Media Research. It was the lowest viewership and demo rating since at least 1992; last year's show drew 6.4 million viewers. The Tony Awards dropped steadily from 7.2 million at 8 p.m. to 6.4 million at 9 p.m., when it competed against the series finale of "The Sopranos" on HBO and Game 2 of the NBA Finals on ABC. It fell to 5.3 million viewers at 10:30 p.m., when the major awards were being handed out.

Full ratings information on "Sopranos" won't be available until today, but the mob drama likely took at least something out of the broadcasters. Preliminary numbers in the overnight metered markets indicate that the series finale averaged a 6.4 household rating, representing a 42% increase over last week's penultimate episode, which averaged a 4.5 in the overnights. (In total viewers, last week's episode garnered 8 million.)

Elsewhere in the broadcast landscape, it was a relatively quiet summer Sunday, with no show reaching 10 million viewers and only one -- the San Antonio Spurs' 103-92 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals -- scoring higher than a 3.0 rating in adults 18-49.

The basketball game averaged 7.7 million viewers and a 3.1/8 in adults 18-49 between 9-11 p.m., though the ratings were likely to be revised later today. The top show in viewership for the night was "60 Minutes," which averaged 9.3 million viewers and a 1.6/6 in the demo. "Dateline NBC" averaged 9 million viewers and a 2.3/7 between 8-9 p.m.

Final broadcast ratings also will be available today.

Sunday night's averages: CBS (7 million viewers and a 1.3/4 in the demo), ABC (6.1 million, 2.4/7), NBC (6 million, 1.6/5), Fox (3.5 million, 1.7/5) and the CW (1 million, 0.4/1).

Elsewhere in cable, Lifetime's new drama series "Army Wives" held up in its second week as the Sunday night's episode retained most of its audience from last week's premiere. The show, which airs at 10 p.m., averaged 3.3 million total viewers, down only slightly from last week's 3.5 million, which set a record as the most-watched series premiere in Lifetime's 23-year history.

In the key female demos, "Wives" also was on par in 18-49 (1.2 million viewers, 2.1 rating, even with last week) and down only slightly in 18-34 (470,000 viewers, 1.7 rating vs. last week's 502,000, 1.8). Lifetime also said that June 10 online streams of "Wives" were up 30% over the premiere.
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