Emmys 2020: The lowest-ever ratings show us just how irrelevant they are
The 72nd Emmy Awards from the Television Academy were held Sept. 21 on ABC and continued a trend of awards shows losing in the ratings. According to Nielsen’s Live+SameDay ratings, the awards ceremony had just 6.1 million viewers. Its low ratings prove the Emmys is one of the most irrelevant awards shows.
The major demographic to watch is the 19-49 age range. It might be a huge range of viewers, but they’re the targeted demographic for awards shows. Compared to last year’s hostless Emmys, the awards show took a 25% drop in the demographic and a 12% drop in total audience.
You can’t talk about the ratings without also mentioning the competition it was facing. The Emmys had to compete with Sunday Night Football on NBC & the NBA Eastern Conference Finals on TNT. All three were in the primetime slot for their respective networks. Sunday Night Football was the clear winner, even getting a slight uptick from week 1’s ratings, but the Emmys just squeaked by the NBA.
Jimmy Kimmel is likely to blame for the lowest ratings for the Emmys. At the beginning of the summer, a video surfaced of Kimmel using blackface in a sketch on Comedy Central’s The Man Show. Kimmel eventually apologized, but it took him too long to address the situation and his statement was mostly explanatory instead of remorseful – it was not well received.
The Emmys & Kimmel tried to address the blackface controversy and show support for Black Lives Matter. During the show, Kimmel & Anthony Anderson stood on stage and chanted, “black lives matter.” The bit, if you call it one, did not hit at all. It was cringey to watch, and neither of them looked good. Maybe the Mike Pence joke would have hit if an audience was present, but it was not a good choice for TV.
The bit did not accomplish anything and was a mere reminder of Kimmel’s blackface video. What was a good showing was 37.5% of the nominees in the acting category were people of color, something the Academy Awards lacked this year. But of the eleven acting categories, only four people of color took home the trophy.
Kimmel should have stepped down or the Emmys should have fired him. In 2018 when homophobic tweets from Kevin Hart came to light, Hart eventually stepped down over it. He did refuse to apologize at first but realized the controversy was overshadowing the ceremony. The Academy Awards went un-hosted, and everything turned out fine.
Each year, there’s always one legacy show that wins all the awards. This year that show was Schitt’s Creek. We’re not knocking the show’s value in representation for the LGBTQ+ at award shows or saying it’s a bad show. But it always seems that the show ending its run dominates the Emmys. Last year it was Game of Thrones.
Of Schitt’s Creek’s six seasons they were only nominated for three. They also had not won an Emmy prior to this year and it’s the first year Dan Levy & Annie Murphy received nominations for their supporting roles.
Schitt’s Creek is definitely a great show and deserved the awards it got, but there is a tinge of sadness as season 6 was the show’s last season and the last chance to win an Emmy. Schitt’s Creek went under the radar for the first three seasons but we still say: give the show an award while it’s on the air, not when it’s finished.
The Emmys have become predictable. It’s always the same shows nominated with a few breakouts thrown in. The award show might have upped its minority representation in the nominations, but it was overshadowed by a host who gave a lack-luster apology for using blackface. The completely virtual awards show made it through the night without a single glitch or technical difficulty, but otherwise it was a dumpster fire of irrelevance.