Emmys avoid record-low TV audience for first time in 6 years

Emmys avoid record-low TV audience for first time in 6 years

7.4 million viewers tuned in to the awards show on Sept 19, 2021.

LOS ANGELES (NYTIMES) – For the first time in six years, the Emmys did not set or tie a record low for ratings, as 7.4 million viewers tuned in to the awards show on Sunday night (Sept 19), according to Nielsen.

The audience was the highest in three years and will be a relief to CBS, which broadcast the event, and to the TV executives who have watched in horror as awards show ratings have fallen off a cliff in recent years.

The increase in Emmys viewership follows a trend for live sports events, which have also rebounded in recent months.

Sports could actually help explain the audience increase. The ceremony most likely benefited from the broadcast of a National Football League game on CBS, which wrapped up only a few minutes before the awards show began.

According to preliminary Nielsen data, audience numbers for the Emmys were at their highest when the show began, and then petered out about an hour into the show.

Still, the ratings growth will comfort the Television Academy, and does not represent the full breadth of the audience either.

CBS offered a livestream of the event on its Paramount+ service. When Nielsen releases out-of-home viewing numbers later, the total could be closer to 8 million viewers.

Although that is good news for awards shows it is still roughly half the audience that watched the 2014 ceremony, which had 15.6 million viewers.

In 2018, the Emmys had 10.2 million viewers, which had been a low, and these days would be regarded as a very strong performance.

The Emmys were hosted by Cedric the Entertainer and featured an in-person ceremony for the first time in two years. Unlike other recent hosts, he stayed away from political material, and opened the show with a song-and-dance number.

Because of the pandemic, the ceremony was more intimate than usual.

Producers skipped out on the 7,100-seat Microsoft Theatre, the Emmys’ usual home, and instead staged the event inside a tent with a few hundred people gathered around tables and surrounded by food and drink.

Streaming services were the big winners. Netflix’s The Crown won best drama and The Queen’s Gambit took best limited series, the first time the streaming service ever won top show awards.

Between Sunday’s event and the previous weekend’s Creative Arts Emmys, Netflix took home 44 awards, tying a record set by CBS in 1974. Apple TV+, the 22-month-old streaming service, won for best comedy with Ted Lasso.

“It was a very historic night for streaming,” Ms Bela Bajaria, the head of global TV for Netflix, said at a news conference on Monday.

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