Ratings: Emmy Awards Eye Smallest Audience Ever With Virtual Ceremony

TV’s biggest night is looking at its smallest audience.

Per Nielsen fast nationals (and pending adjustment), ABC’s broadcast of the 2020 Emmys on Sunday night averaged 5.1 million total viewers, down 27 percent from last year’s all-time audience low — which is not unexpected, given multiple on- and off-screen obstacles.

In addition to the pandemic-era telecast’s unavoidably virtual nature, this was the first time ever the Emmys aired against both NBC Sunday Night Football and the NBA Playoffs on the East Coast in primetime, and the first time in 24 years the telecast had a “regular” lead-in (Celebrity Family Feud) versus a themed pre-show.

Watchmen this year led the Emmy pack with 11 total wins, followed by Schitt’s Creek‘s nine, while Succession and The Mandalorian netted seven wins each. By outlet, HBO claimed 30 prizes to Netflix’s 21, while Pop TV placed third with 10. All told, cable and streaming shows — exactly as they did last year — claimed 86% of the Emmys to broadcast TV’s 14%.

The Live+Same Day numbers reported in our ratings column do not reflect a show’s overall performance, given the increased use of delayed playback via DVR and streaming platforms, plus out-of-home viewing. These numbers (Nielsen fast nationals, unless denoted as finals) instead aim to simply illustrate trends or superlatives. Warning: Contents may be hot!

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