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Tony Awards 2021: Ratings crash as 'Moulin Rouge!' musical nabs top award

Yahoo Fiance's Alexandra Canal breaks down the 74th annual Tony awards.

Video Transcript

SEANA SMITH: An exciting night for Broadway and the theater industry, the 74th Annual Tony Awards airing last night. Now, viewers could watch it via broadcast, or they could watch it by streaming the award show.

We want to bring in Alexandra Canal for a little bit more on this. And, Ali, they gave the viewers two different ways to watch it, but it didn't really seem to help with the ratings that we just got from last night's show, did it?

ALEXANDRA CANAL: Not really, Seana, and I'll get to those in a second, but let's talk a little bit about that two-part strategy. You know, the reviews for this were actually very positive. You had two hours streaming exclusively on Paramount+. Then the following two hours, that was on broadcast CBS. That featured more performances as well as the final three awards of the night.

And people largely thought, all right. You know what? This is actually a good way to do things. It's great pacing. We had a good mix of the presentation of the awards along with some performances, and it felt a little more upbeat other than-- rather than some of the other shows that we've had in the past like the Emmys, Golden Globes, Grammys, Oscars. A lot of those feel really, really drawn out. They usually always go above time, three to four hours, sometimes even longer, depending on the show and the year.

So this could possibly be an interesting blueprint that some other award shows could look at moving forward. But as you said, the ratings did disappoint and didn't actually translate over into those viewership numbers that the Emmys were hoping. According to the latest Nielsen figures, only 2.62 million viewers tuned in for that 9:00 to 11:00 PM two-hour chunk on CBS, and that's a 51% drop compared to 2019. 2019, that was a previous record low for the ceremony with 5.4 million viewers.

Now, there could be a couple reasons for this. One, we did have Sunday Night Football. It was a nail-biter match-up between the Green Bay Packers and the San Francisco 49ers. Sunday Night Football was by far the-- won out on prime time when it came to all the programming that we had at our disposal.

Also, overall, this is kind of a weird year for the Tonys. Because of the shutdown due to COVID, we only had a select number of shows and a select number of actors and actresses eligible for nomination. So the pool was almost cut in half, so there wasn't much competition.

Also strange considering many of the plays that were nominated have since shut down with no plans to reopen. So that is obviously a disappointment. And meanwhile, the musicals that were nominated, many of them first debuted over two years ago.

So overall, kind of a strange awards season, but also the messaging here was hopeful that Broadway, you know, it's looking to get back on its feet. It's opening again, and hopefully, that leads to more plays, more musicals down the line. But for now for this award show, there wasn't really much to work with. The competition was pretty light out there.

ADAM SHAPIRO: Ali, you say a strange year. It's no stranger than, say, a revival of "Cats," which, by the way, they should have left in the alley.

Look, who doesn't love a live show? I'm going to "Moulin Rouge!" which I'm glad it did well. I'm going Thursday night. But who were the winners? Let's-- you know, people do like these shows.

ALEXANDRA CANAL: "Moulin Rouge!" was probably the biggest winner, and I did have the opportunity to see that Broadway musical. It was very good. The set was amazing. It took home 10 Tonys, including Best Musical and a Best Actor win for Aaron Tveit. Now, he was the only one nominated in this category. He was the only one eligible, so it would be a little weird if he didn't win Best Actor, but he still had to receive 60% of the votes, and he was very good in it. As I said, I did get the chance to see him.

Another musical that I did have the chance to see was "Jagged Little Pill." That also won a few awards, including Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role and Best Book of the Musical. Now, "Jagged Little Pill" has come under some scrutiny with workplace mistreatment and discrimination allegations. Across the board, that is something that Broadway is trying to combat. They want to be more inclusive. They want to be diverse. Over the past few years, they've really gone through their own MeToo reckoning, so to speak. So that's something to keep in mind moving forward as this industry reopens and looks to come back stronger and better than ever.

But flipping over from musicals to plays, "The Inheritance" walked away with Best Play. I have not seen that one. In fact, I'm not really a play girl. I gravitate more towards the musicals, but it did have a lot of great reviews. It's something that I would have liked to have seen.

But as I mentioned, a lot of these plays have since shut down. No plans to reopen as of yet, which obviously is a huge bummer. But hopefully we'll get some new shows coming out there.

But the Tonys, not a lot of people tuned in. I don't know. I just don't think people are into it this year.