NEW YORK - Among TV's torrent of awards shows, the yearly Tony telecast is historically a ratings also-ran.

In 2009, Broadway's biggest night was seen by only 7.4 million people, reflecting an uptick of 19 percent above the previous year, according to the Nielsen Co.

But even that boosted viewership was dwarfed by last year's audiences for the American Music Awards, the Golden Globes, the People's Choice Awards, the Grammys, the Prime-Time Emmys, even the MTV Video Music Awards. And nearly 24 million viewers flocked to the 2009 Oscar broadcast.

This is nothing to be surprised at - or ashamed of.

The 64th Annual Tony Awards, honoring theater professionals for distinguished achievement on Broadway, will be broadcast at 8 p.m. Sunday on Channel 3, originating live from Radio City Music Hall. (It will also be aired globally in 45 countries, according to the Tonys.)

The host is Sean Hayes, who everyone knows from TV's "Will & Grace" and, as it happens, is a Tony nominee this year for best leading actor in a musical for "Promises, Promises."

Musical performances from Tony-nominated revivals "La Cage aux Folles" with Kelsey Grammer and "A Little Night Music" with Catherine Zeta-Jones are on the bill.