Viewership for the Primetime Emmy Awards set a record low for the sixth consecutive year, averaging 6.1 million viewers, erasing the previous low of 6.949 million set last year when the ceremony aired on Fox, according to preliminary figures released by Nielsen Monday.
Viewership for most forms of programming is down compared to the past primarily due to higher viewership of streaming programming, including the same programs shown on traditional television.
Sunday’s three-hour, six-minute virtual ceremony on ABC faced unprecedented sports competition. While the Emmys air opposite a “Sunday Night Football” game in the years they don’t air on NBC, they also faced competition from an NBA playoff game for the first time.
The first 50 minutes of the ceremony aired opposite the season premiere of the CBS News magazine “60 Minutes” in the Eastern and Central time zones where the bulk of the nation’s population lives.
With restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic making a red carpet show impossible, this was the first time since 1996 that the Emmys had a regular series as the lead-in on ABC. The last five Emmys broadcasts on ABC have been preceded by an Emmy-related special.
The record-low Emmy viewership comes seven months after viewership for the Oscars set a record low, 23.569 million viewers. The Oscars have aired annually on ABC since 1976.
Individual viewership figures for the Emmys — which annually rotate among the four major broadcast networks — began being released on an annual basis in 1982.
The record for Emmy viewership is 35.8 million viewers in 1986, during an era when there were only three major broadcast networks and viewership for cable programs was much smaller than Monday.
Final figures are scheduled to be announced on Tuesday but are not expected to be much different from the preliminary figures.
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