The virtual Emmy Awards, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel on ABC, were a ratings disaster. The show started with 5.8 million, dropped to 5.2 million and ended with just 4.2 million viewers in the final hour. This means at least 1 million viewers left at 10pm and didn’t bother to see the end of the show.
Last year the the Emmys on Fox garnered 6.9 million total viewers, which was down 32% from 2018 (10.2 million total viewers) to a new record low. The 2019 Emmys, which were host-less and also on a Sunday, declined 33% in ratings among adults 18-49, falling from a 2.4 to a 1.6.
That’s a 39% decrease from last year to the final hour this year.
This is no surprise. It wasn’t that the production values were poor. They were fine. And despite Kimmel and Jennifer Aniston almost burning down the Staples Center, the show improved as it went along. Some bits worked, others didn’t. But overall it was almost a relief to not have all the backslapping that comes with a regular awards show.
But the Emmys have faced the same problem for years: the shows they honor are not on broadcast TV, so the Emmys audience is commensurate to cable shows ratings. The Emmys have become the Cable ACE Awards. “Schitt’s Creek” never had many viewers despite its popularity. So the whole first hour of the Emmys devoted to that show didn’t help. It was unclear by 10pm who was still watching aside from entertainment press and nominees.
Will the other awards shows this year face the same apathy? We’re in a perilous situation, to be sure.