FILE PHOTO: 73rd Annual Tony Awards – Photo Room – New York, U.S., 09/06/2019 – The “Hadestown” cast and crew pose backstage with their Best Musical award. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly/File Photo
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – The television audience for Broadway theater’s Tony awards slumped to an all-time low in the absence of pop culture juggernauts like “Harry Potter” and “Hamilton.”
Nielsen data on Monday showed that just 5.5 million Americans watched Sunday’s ceremony broadcast on CBS from New York, down 20 percent from 2018 when “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” took home six Tonys and rocker Bruce Springsteen won a special award for his sold-out one man show.
It was the first time the television audience for the annual awards show that celebrates the best of theater fell below 6 million.
Sunday’s TV audience also marked a sharp drop from 2017 when viewership reached a 15-year high, fueled by the success of rap musical “Hamilton.”
In Sunday’s ceremony, “Hadestown,” about a young couple’s dark trek to the underworld, took home a leading eight awards, including best new musical. The award show was hosted by late-night talk show host James Corden.
Other winners included best play “The Ferryman,” set around the sectarian struggles in 1980s Northern Ireland, and Bryan Cranston, who played the unhinged TV anchor in the stage version of the 1976 film “Network.”
The new low in the television audience marked a sharp contrast with box office receipts on Broadway, which hit a record $1.8 billion this past season.
Ticket sales for “Hadestown” increased by more than 1,300% on Sunday thanks to the Tony exposure, online booking platform TodayTix.com said.
Sunday’s show took place against stiff competition from the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup on rival NBC, which drew 6.1 million viewers, and the much anticipated season 2 premiere on HBO of female-dominated drama “Big Little Lies” starring Reese Witherspoon, Meryl Streep and Nicole Kidman. Audience data for “Big Little Lies” was not available on Monday.
Reporting by Jill Serjeant in Los Angeles; Editing by James Dalgleish and Matthew Lewis