Emmys (Opposite NFL Football) Draw Smallest Crowd on Record

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by Senior Editor, Variety.com

UPDATED: Sunday’s telecast of the “67th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards” appears to have drawn the show’s smallest audience on record — 11.9 million viewers — according to preliminary national estimates from Nielsen that are adjusted for time zone differences. It was down nearly 4 million viewers from last year’s show on NBC (15.6 million), which aired on a Monday in late August and didn’t have to face an NFL game.

The previous recorded total-viewer low for the show was 12.3 million in both 1990 (its first year on Fox) and 2008 on ABC. The 1974 Emmys on ABC likely drew a smaller audience, but a total-viewer count wasn’t available, according to Nielsen; that year’s show was seen in 6.85 million homes, which is the smallest tune-in of the past 60 years. The total-viewer high in recent years remains the 17.8 million in 2013 on CBS, and the largest audience on record was the nearly 36 million who watched NBC’s telecast in 1986.

The Emmys are merely the sixth most popular awards show of the past year. They trail the Oscars on ABC (37.3 million), the Grammys on CBS (24.8 million), the Golden Globes on NBC (19.3 million), the CMAs on ABC (16.3 million) and the ACMs on CBS (16.0 million), while they come in ahead of the AMAs (11.6 million) and Billboard Music Awards (11.2 million), both on ABC.

In adults 18-49, Sunday’s preliminary national average of 3.6 is down 14% from last year’s show on NBC as well as Fox’s most recent airing of the kudocast four years ago (both 4.2). It’s believed to be the lowest rating to date for the Emmys. The prior low on record came in 2008 on ABC (3.8).

HBO’s big night didn’t translate into a banner ratings night for Fox on Sunday, as its coverage of the Primetime Emmy Awards was down sharply from last year’s telecast.

Total-viewer and demo averages will be released later this morning by Nielsen, but the “67th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards” averaged roughly an 8.7 overnight household rating/14 share from 8 to 11 in the metered markets — down 20% from last year’s 10.9/18 for NBC on a Monday in late August. Fox should have benefited from a highly rated NFL overrun, but its Dallas-Philadelphia late-afternoon game was something of a clunker and ended more than 20 minutes before the start of the Emmys. Postgame show “The OT” averaged roughly an 11 household rating in the overnights.

NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” was the dominant program of the night with a 16.3/27 in the overnights, down only slightly from last week’s season opener between the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys. It’s the second highest-rated Week 2 game in the 10-year history of “SNF” on the Peacock.

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