What does this mean? The Associated Press reported the cratering of viewership for the Emmys — the most prestigious television-show awards in Hollywood — as an example of a “boutique event.” The AP also generously allows that the competition was exceptionally tough this year, but ….
The Nielsen company said 6.1 million people watched the Emmys on Sunday night, down from 6.9 million in 2019 and the third straight year of record low viewership.
The Emmys faced competition from both NFL football and the NBA Western Conference finals. The coronavirus pandemic eliminated any chance fans had of seeing stars on a red carpet, although host Jimmy Kimmel gamely tried to make do in a mostly empty auditorium with actors accepting awards remotely.
Still, it illustrated how the Emmy Awards are becoming a boutique event. Last year was the first time viewership slipped under 10 million people. As recently as 2013, the Emmys had 17.6 million viewers.
Needless to say, if the same broadcasters who vie for these awards had shows with this kind of “boutique” viewership, none of them would last long enough to contend for these awards. The competition argument doesn’t hold much water, either. The Emmys routinely have sports competition on Sunday nights — late-season baseball or early-season NFL games, at least. The sports leagues aren’t exactly growing their audiences either, so the viewers aren’t exactly enamored of live-action events — or at least some live-action events.
By the way, this cratering is a bit more recent than the AP report lets on. Deadline worked off of more preliminary numbers, but the results turned out to be a new depth of disinterest regardless. Four years ago, when ABC last aired the Emmys against stiff sports competition, it looked much rosier:
In early numbers, the more than three-hour ceremony snared an audience of 5.11 million and a 1.0 rating in the key demographic for ABC. These are fast affiliate numbers, which will be adjusted and updated in final data expected later today, but it is still going to be a steep and perhaps impossible climb to top 2019’s depths.
Broadcast on Fox, last year’s 71st Primetime Emmy Awards ended up with 6.9 million viewers and a 1.6 rating among the 18-49s That was a significant double-digit drop from the 2018 Emmys on NBC, which aired on a Monday.
Looking at the last time ABC hosted the Emmys, last night’s show was down 47% in viewership and 60% in the key demo from the early numbers of the 2016 ceremony. Marking Kimmel’s second time as Emmy host, that September 18, 2016 show, which was held on a Sunday and did face SNF, ended up with an audience of 11.38 million and a demo rating of 2.8, both lows at the time.
Roughly speaking, that’s a two-thirds drop in viewership over seven years, and a halving of the audience over the last four. That kind of dramatic trend would normally prompt entertainment executives to either cancel shows or to revamp them to correct for the losses. Thus far, though, the Emmys seem just as disinterested in audience disinterest as every other self-congratulatory Hollywood awards show.
What’s driving the disinterest? Everyone will have a theory, but the one that Hollywood will resist the hardest is that getting woke leads to going broke. Awards shows have had politics on stage since Sasheen Littlefeather, but over the last couple of decades, it seems all that Hollywood wants to promote on these broadcasts. All of it goes in the same direction, and all of it is getting more strident and lecturing. And just like with the sports leagues, people who tune in to these events normally want an escape from politics and troubles, not a lecture on how they are supposed to think and believe.
Instead, Hollywood and the sports industry seem happy with “boutique” viewership. At least it gives us an idea of just how popular the woke brigades really are, even when they control most corporate media platforms and outlets.
On the other hand, everyone who found something else to do this year missed this comic bit. WTF, indeed.
— Karli 🇺🇸 (@KarluskaP) September 21, 2020