Duh. Of course The Tony Awards ratings were down!

Instead of predicting who was going to win The Tony Awards on Sunday, I should have predicted the adjectives editors were going to use to describe the low ratings the show was destined to receive.  



And my favorite . . . 

“All time low!”

Uhhh, remember that time for a year and a half when theater was at an ALL TIME LOW?!?!  

The articles aren’t wrong, of course. The ratings weren’t good. Down 51% in fact. But if you were expecting something better, then you’re wearing a helluva of a pair of Mama Rose-colored glasses.

Of course the ratings were down . . . and here are five reasons why:

  1. All Awards Shows Are Down.

Awards shows have been on a decline for years.  Check out this analysis I did in 2019 of Tony viewership compared to The Oscars and Grammys over the years. 

In 2020, The Emmys hit an all time low as well . . . and unlike the theater, you could still see TV in 2020!

(The Emmys bounced back to a healthy number this year, just like we will, when we’ve got new shows to tout.)

  1. Guess Who Really Advertises The Tonys?

If we ever needed proof about who markets The Tony Awards, this was it.  

See, in a “normal” year, all of the Broadway shows spend a gazillion dollars in awards marketing . . . trumpeting their nominations, trying to convince voters, etc.  And it’s a big public drum beat leading up to the ceremony.

This year? None of it. I’d estimate that $20mm WASN’T spent on media talking about The Tony Awards. 

And that’s got an impact.  

  1. It wasn’t JUST Football, but also Football.

We’re usually up against an NBA game. This year, we faced Football. And I know, you’re thinking that our audience isn’t Football’s audience. There’s more of a crossover than you think . . . and Football can be a full day activity in front of a screen for a family. Even if they all aren’t watching, the chances of that screen staying on into the night, drop.  

And don’t forget about baseball. And the last few days of warm weather. And, and, and . . .

  1. Who were we rooting for again?

Imagine watching the Bachelor or Survivor or Ru Paul’s Drag Race . . .and taking an 18-month break before you found out who won. Would you even remember who was still in the game?  

Competitions are about building up some drama (pun intended), and this year, that was impossible to do. Sure, our avid fans were invested . . . which is why the ratings didn’t drop even MORE. The Casual fans, casually watched something else.  Probably SVU.

  1. Two Networks is Like Two Acts.

Years ago, there was a certain show that was having trouble in previews. No one liked it.

When I asked someone close to the show how it was going, they said, “They just cut the intermission . . . less opportunity for people to leave.”

While I understand why it was done, having the show split in two and on two different networks (Paramount+ and then CBS) adds a complication to the process that gave people an opportunity to leave.  

Then add in the cost for Paramount+, its lack of availability for Canadian audiences, etc, and you have a recipe for low ratings.

So yeah, it was low. 

But get this . . . next year’s Tony Awards, which is NOT too far away, by the way, will be bigger.

I have TWO big thoughts about next year’s awards. I’ll share those next week.

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Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.