Primetime Emmy awards show ratings drop to all-time low

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Jimmy Kimmel and actress Jennifer Aniston presented the award for outstanding lead actress in a comedy series together at the 72nd Primetime Emmy Awards.

ABC | Walt Disney Television | Getty Images

Despite stacked odds, the 72nd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards went off without a hitch Sunday night.

Still, the show, produced by ABC and hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, wasn’t able to overcome all of the obstacles put in its path by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

In early estimates from Nielsen Monday, it appears the event saw the lowest viewership of any Emmy ceremony in the Television Academy’s history, drawing only 5.1 million total viewers. That’s a 14% drop in viewership compared with last year’s hostless event.

Kimmel and producers at ABC knew they were taking a risk with this year’s Emmys. The event was hosted live from an empty Staples Center in Los Angeles, with the majority of nominees waiting in their living rooms to hear if they had won.

The show itself was rather seamless considering all of the hurdles the broadcast had to jump due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The production team ended up shipping 130 camera and lighting kits to nominees across the world since social distancing guidelines would not permit any mass gatherings. Not to mention, there are ongoing travel restrictions.

“Schitt’s Creek” swept the comedy category’s seven major awards Sunday, a first for the Hollywood event, while HBO dominated in the limited series and drama categories, scooping up 11 awards during the telecast.

There was no red carpet, no live audience and the ceremony’s lead-in show was an episode of “Celebrity Family Feud” featuring Fall Out Boy and Weezer. This year the Emmys also competed against “Sunday Night Football” and the NBA Playoffs.

The game between the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks on NBC tallied 12.2 million viewers, dwarfing the Emmy numbers. The season premiere of “60 Minutes” on CBS drew in 7.5 million viewers. Both counts are preliminary. 

Disclosure: NBCUniversal and CNBC are both owned by Comcast.

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