I'll start by admitting that I don't understand the point of award shows. To be honest, I don't understand much of what I see in my online viewing guide. Maybe that's colored by the fact that, when I was a kid, there were like three channels (ABC, CBS and NBC) - four if you counted PBS. There just wasn't a lot of available air-time to put genuine garbage on the air, let alone niche-appeal garbage.
Award shows, in general, always just struck me as self-congratulatory wanking by entertainment industry X. That said, most of the award shows were about subjects that had wide enough appeal that I could at least sort of understand how a national audience might be interested in watching. The same can't be said for the Tony Awards. I mean, from a wide viewership standpoint, how many people (that don't live in the NYC area) actually see Broadway shows more than once or twice in a lifetime? I understand there's a decent amount of cross-over between more widely-popular entertainment mediums and Broadway. I also understand that some of the really successful shows have road versions of their shows - widening the audience of people that can see a show. But, all that aside, how many people are there that are both consumers of Broadway and Broadway-style productions are there out there and, more importantly, how many of them are interested in watching a self-congratulatory wank-fest? It just doesn't seem like there'd be enough to soak up an hour or more worth of prime advertising time. I guess that's why it's aired during summer repeats season though - it's the only way it can come even marginally close to having enough of an audience to draw advertising dollars.