Remotely Produced Emmys Hit Another Record Ratings Low

Adults 18-49 audience plummets 25% from last year's previous all-time drop

Host Jimmy Kimmel (onstage with Jennifer Aniston) had predicted the all-time low Emmy ratings prior to the telecast. ABC
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Sunday’s telecast of the 72nd Primetime Emmy Awards, the first to be produced remotely due to Covid-19, went remarkably smoothly, even though the show’s producers had been bracing for the worst. The ABC ceremony’s ratings, however, were another story: The Emmys lost 25% of its audience from last year in the coveted adults 18-49 demo, falling to a record-low 1.2 rating, and attracted just 6.1 million total viewers.

That’s a decline of 12% in total viewers from 2019’s host-less Emmys, which aired on Fox and hit what was then an all-time low in both total viewers (6.9 million) and the 18-49 demo (1.6 rating). Those ratings had plummeted roughly 33% from 2018’s numbers, which had also been record lows.

Host Jimmy Kimmel had predicted the ratings drop ahead of the ceremony. “I know everyone will get crazy when I say this, but this will probably be the lowest-rated Emmys of all time,” Kimmel told Deadline last week. “Television is the lowest rated it has been. You look at some of the ratings you see in prime time now, I mean, people would be jumping out of buildings if you got ratings like this 10 years ago.”

After all, linear ratings continue to plummet, especially as prolonged pandemic production shutdowns have kept the biggest scripted series sidelined. Without the usual fall TV premiere week—which would normally kick off today with the start of the 2020-21 TV season—to jumpstart broadcast viewing, audiences have even less incentive to return to linear TV.

The Emmys also faced more competition than usual, airing opposite Sunday Night Football and an NBA playoff game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Denver Nuggets. Usually, the NBA playoffs conclude in June, months before the ceremony.

But even prior to the pandemic, ratings had fallen this year for TV’s other big award shows.

In February, the Oscars also dropped to record low ratings: 23.6 million total viewers and a 5.3 rating in the adults 18-49 demo. That was a 20% decrease in total viewers and a 31% demo drop from 2019’s ceremony.

The Academy Awards’ 5.3 demo rating put it below the Grammys, which received a 5.4 demo rating—and had 18.7 million total viewers—two weeks earlier on CBS, a year-over-year drop of 4% and 6%, respectively.

In January, NBC’s Golden Globes had 18.3 million and a 4.7 demo rating, numbers that were off 2% and 11% from 2019.

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@jasonlynch Jason Lynch is TV Editor at Adweek, overseeing trends, technology, personalities and programming across broadcast, cable and streaming video.