Emmy Ratings Flame Out In Early Numbers With COVID-19 Dominated Ceremony; ‘Sunday Night Football’ Takes A Hit

Besides the obvious changes in formant and technical reach due to the coronavirus pandemic, Jimmy Kimmel’s third time as host saw a lot of firsts at the 72nd Primetime Emmy Awards last night.

For one, there was a host again after the TV Academy show ceremony tried to be like the 2019 Oscars and go without a frontman or frontwoman. Then there was the unprecedented total sweep by Canadian comedy Schitt’s Creek of every category it was nominated in. That sweep also saw a first for an import from the Great White North in a top series category. Additionally, with big victories for HBO’s Watchmen, Sunday’s Emmys had record wins for African-American actors.

And, speaking of HBO, the premium cabler’s upset in the Lead Actress in a Drama Series by Euphoria’s Zendaya made the Disney alum at 24 years old the youngest winner ever in the category. Once again, the Emmys were facing off against Sunday Night Football, just like last year.

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However, with the Emmys also matched up again the NBA playoffs for the first time with the Los Angeles Lakers beating the Denver Nuggets in a dramatic second game of the Western Conference, there was one particular similarity and difference this year.

As predicted by Kimmel, the Emmys hit an all-time ratings low last night, dropping 14% in viewers and 33% among adults 18-49 from the previous all-time low of last year.

In early numbers, the more than three-hour ceremony snared an audience of 5.11 million and a 1.0 rating in the key demographic for ABC. Now those fast affiliate numbers will be adjusted and updated in final data expected later today, but it is still going to be a steep and perhaps impossible climb to top 2019’s depths.

Broadcast on Fox, the 71st Primetime Emmy Awards ended up with 6.9 million viewers and a 1.6 rating among the 18-49s That was a significant double digit drop from the 2018 Emmys on NBC, which aired on a Monday.

Looking at the last time ABC hosted the Emmys, last night’s show was down 47% in viewership and 60% in the key demo from the early numbers of the 2016 ceremony. Marking Kimmel’s second time as Emmy host, that September 18, 2016 show, which was held on a Sunday and did face SNF, ended up in the final numbers with an audience of 11.38 million and a demo rating of 2.8, both lows at the time.

We will of course update this year’s Primetime Emmy Awards ratings as we get more data.

In terms of last night’s Sunday Night Football, the NBC and NFL flagship show had the hometown Seattle Seahawks beating the now Tom Brady-less New England Patriots 35 – 30 in an audience free game due to COVID-19 safety protocols.

Dominated by the Emerald City’s QB Russell Wilson, the often-thrilling gridiron match-up also saw the Patriots and their QB Cam Newton struggle the whole night against the Seahawks’ wall of defense – as you can see:

Still, with numbers certain to tick upward in the final data, the 8:20 PM ET starting SNF took a tumble.

Pulling in 12.22 million viewers in the early metrics and 3.5 in the ratings, last night’s primetime big NFL game was down 17% in audience and 25% in the demo from the early numbers of last week’s SNF official season debut. That hometown win on September 14, 2020 by the LA Rams over the Dallas Cowboys shifted up a bit to 18.94 million viewers and 6.2 ratings for the Comcast-owned network and the league in the final numbers.

Scoring 15.87 million viewers and a demo rating of 5.3 in the early numbers, last year’s SNF’s Week 2 game on September 15, 2019 between the winning Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles did not face the 2019 Emmy Awards. The small screen ceremony took place the following week.

Like the 2020 Emmy Awards, we will update this year’s SNF numbers as they come in.

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