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Last year’s Tonys proved a tough act to follow. Sunday’s show, which was hosted by Kevin Spacey and crowned Dear Evan Hansen and Bette Midler as the big winners, was down a steep 31 percent from 2016.
Overnight returns from Nielsen have the CBS telecast averaging a 4.7 rating among metered market households, essentially tying the numbers from five years ago. That’s still not likely to be enough to help it top the surging Stanley Cup final on NBC, but the demo drops are steeper. Fast affiliate returns have the show averaging 6 million viewers and a 0.9 rating among adults 18-49. The latter number is little more than half of what the previous Tonys averaged.
No one expected this year’s show to pull a bigger audience. Heat around the 2016 Tonys was rather unprecedented and, thus, presented an insurmountable ratings bar. By the time the Broadway kudos rolled around to crown Lin Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton, the musical was already such a cultural phenomenon that it was credited with the 15-year viewership high.
The 2016 Tonys, which averaged an 6.8 rating among households in overnight returns, ultimately fetched 8.7 million viewers and a 1.6 rating among adults 18-49.
Like last year’s show, Sunday’s Tonys also faced Stanley Cup competition on NBC. Game 6 proved to be the championship game for the Pittsburgh Penguins, winning their second straight cup. Early returns have that game averaging an overnight 4.6 rating among households, a 20 percent boost from 2016. It will likely emerge as the night’s top performer among adults 18-49 once final time-zone adjusted Nielsen returns arrive for the night. (Final adjustments will also paint a more telling picture for Megyn Kelly’s new Sunday show, which looks likely steady with its first outing.)
Shy of the Stanley Cup was solid showing from ABC’s reality block, all things considered with the influx of competition. The third season premiere of Celebrity Family Feud averaged a 1.5 rating among adults 18-49, essentially even with its year-ago return. Steve Harvey’s Funderdome, the subject of a recent hack, did not appear to be dampened by any leaks. It held nearly all of its lead-in, averaging a 1.4 rating in the key demo. $100,000 Pyramid pulled up the rear at 10 p.m., earning a 1.2 rating in the demo.
Fox had its own reality offering in the return of American Grit. It limped in with a 0.4 rating in the key demo.
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