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Can Neil Patrick Harris boost Tony Awards ratings?

April 3, 2012 |  9:56 am

Neil Patrick Harris

Neil Patrick Harris will host Broadway's biggest night for the third time, organizers of the Tony Awards announced on Tuesday. The award show is scheduled to take place June 10 at the Beacon Theatre in New York and will be broadcast live on CBS, with a delay for the West Coast.

Harris has proved a popular choice for the Tonys, but will the "How I Met Your Mother" actor, who hosted last year's Tonys as well as the 2009 ceremony, be able to reverse the show's declining TV viewership of the last three years?

Usually the least-watched of the major entertainment awards shows, the Tonys have struggled with falling TV ratings in recent years. Last year's show drew 6.9 million viewers, down from 7 million in 2010. That figure was down from 7.4 million viewers in 2009.

By way of comparison, this year's Academy Awards show on ABC drew 39.3 million viewers, up slightly from the previous year. Sunday's Academy of Country Music Awards on CBS attracted an estimated 13 million viewers.

To try to boost viewership, the Tony Awards show has resorted to presenting its technical and lifetime achievement awards in a pre-broadcast ceremony. It has also presented excerpts from national touring shows in an attempt to appeal to middle America audiences.

Last year, the Tonys faced tough competition from the NBA Finals, which aired on ABC.

The Tonys could get a boost from the presence of "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark," which is eligible for awards consideration this year.

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-- David Ng

Photo: Neil Patrick Harris. Credit: Liz O. Baylen / Los Angeles Times

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