Sunday night’s Emmy ceremony might have been rife with elating and surprising choices, but that apparently wasn’t enough to save Fox’s telecast from one of TV’s most reliable trends. Once again, this weekend’s ceremony is eyeing a record low in early ratings.
*According to Deadline, the Emmys netted a 5.7 metered market rating, per early numbers—a 23 percent drop from last year’s gala, which aired on Monday, September 17, 2018. This year’s ceremony also dropped just over 30 percent from the most-recent Emmys telecast to air on a Sunday—Stephen Colbert’s 2017 ceremony. These prior ceremonies do, however, have one thing in common with Sunday’s: they, too, constituted new ratings lows. Viewer erosion has come for all TV programs across the board; it’s rare now for any TV event, scripted or live, to capture as much of the national audience as it might have a decade ago.
Awards show ratings have crystallized that tendency, with viewership, for the most part, trending downward across the board. The Oscars ceremony earlier this year bucked that trajectory slightly by improving its audience for the first time in five years. Fox might have hoped that by foregoing an emcee, it could get in on the Oscars’ ratings boon. But as one awards insider suggested to V.F. earlier this year, the hostless Oscars already satisfied the curiosity—so that move will likely carry diminishing returns.
Sunday’s ceremony on Fox included several selections that both shocked and delighted viewers—including a stunning upset from Fleabag and Phoebe Waller-Bridge. But the show itself has drawn mostly negative reviews; without a host, Fox didn’t have a gravitational center for the proceedings, which unfolded chaotically. If the early number bear out, they could represent a more-than-30-percent viewership decline from the last time Fox aired the Emmys in 2015, with host Andy Samberg. But hey—at least this year brought a great winner’s list.
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