Emmy Awards ratings hit record low, drop below 10 million people

The ratings are part of a wider trend in the television industry, as consumers spend less time watching linear programming.
Image: An Emmy Statue at the Governors Ball press preview in Los Angeles on Sept. 12, 2019.
An Emmy Statue at the Governors Ball press preview in Los Angeles on Sept. 12, 2019.Mark Ralston / AFP - Getty Images

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By Daniel Arkin

Emmy Awards viewership continued its steady decline Sunday night, dropping to about 6.9 million people — a plunge of 32 percent from last year's ceremony, according to Nielsen data shared by Fox.

The dismal ratings marked the first time that viewership for the television industry's marquee awards show tumbled below 10 million viewers. Last year's Emmys, which aired on NBC, had been the previous record-holder for least-watched telecast, with a slim 10.2 million viewers.

The ceremony, telecast on the Fox network, ditched a host this year and also went up against "Sunday Night Football" on NBC. (NBCUniversal, the owner of NBC, is the parent company of NBC News.)

Here's our coverage of the Emmy Awards as it happened

Nielsen declined to comment.

The ratings are part of a wider trend in the television industry, as consumers spend less time watching linear programming and traditional broadcast networks lose ground to streaming services.

Hollywood award shows have been hit particularly hard. The ratings for this year's host-free Academy Awards were the second-lowest in telecast history, with some 29.6 million viewers.

The weak numbers for the Emmys suggest that even high-profile wins for culture-conquering shows like "Game of Thrones" might not be enough to attract a wide audience.

The top honors at this year's show went to the fantasy epic "Thrones" and Amazon's "Fleabag," an edgy comedy about a self-destructive British woman.

The telecast's emotional high points seemed to break through the noise on social media, at least. Billy Porter, the first openly gay man to nab the best drama actor award, drew raves on Twitter for his impassioned acceptance speech.

Patricia Arquette's calls for transgender rights and Michelle Williams' appeals for pay equity in Hollywood also got attention after the show.