Emmys
Emmys 2016 Ratings

Ratings: Emmys Hit All-Time Audience Low; More Watched JonBenet Mini

ABC’s broadcast of the 68th Primetime Emmy Awards on Sunday night drew 9.7 million total viewers and a 2.5 demo rating, down 18 and 30 percent from last year’s Fox telecast and marking the gala’s smallest TV audience ever.

This year’s kudoscast went up against a slightly softer, though quite formidable, NBC Sunday Night Football match-up versus a year ago: Packers/Vikings did 20.5 mil and a 7.4, compared to Seahawks/Packers’ 23.1 mil/8.4. Over on CBS, Part 1 of the JonBenet Ramsey miniseries averaged 10.3 mil and a 2.1 (pending adjustment due to a delayed start).

HBO and FX dominated the Emmys with 22 and 18 total wins apiece, whereas broadcasters ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and The CW combined for 21 total trophies, and only four during Sunday’s Big Show. Of note among the winners, Veep‘s Julia Louis-Dreyfus made history, Game of Thrones set a new record and Tatiana Maslany finally grabbed gold for playing a bazillion characters on Orphan Black.

TVLine readers gave Emmys host Jimmy Kimmel an average grade of “B+.”

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74 Comments
  1. Al says:

    Unfourantely since many of the shows nominated are low rated it’s hard to expect the show to do high numbers

    • TheloNaGrapso says:

      Yes because GoT is not breaking records every season.

      • Kat says:

        Al said “so many of the shows” are low rated, not ALL of the shows. Why the snark? I agree that while its nice that many low rated shows get some focus and recognition with the Emmys, having very few shows with larger audiences affects the interest level – thus ratings – in the Emmys broadcast.

        • Vi says:

          I watched last night and sad to say I was bored. I don’t watch much on the cable channels so most of the actors/shows that won, I don’t watch. Probably won’t watch next year.

          • jr. says:

            Most of the shows nominated I too, do not watch. So I didn’t care really who won. Glad to read Grease Live won several Emmy’s though!

        • TheloNaGrapso says:

          Maybe it’s time for Network TV (presumably what “most people watch”) to start making better shows.

  2. Whatevah8 says:

    I love Jimmy Kimmel and watched the beginning but as soon as Louie Anderson won I thought meh..I’m done.

    • Sally McLinn says:

      I loved Kimmel. Very funny skits.

    • dan says:

      Kimmel was mediocre. Best bit was with Matt Damon and then Amy Schumer reading the note from Jimmy’s mom. The opening was just OK for me and the PB&J thing was stupid (can you say rip-off of Ellen’s pizza delivery at the Oscars?). The show was entertaining overall (which surprised me), but I’m just not a big Kimmel fan.

  3. Sally Mander says:

    Didn’t watch because of Kimmel

  4. Heather says:

    I’m curious, could the low numbers be attributed to how people are watching? Do these numbers just come from those with cable providers, just satellite, OTA?

    • Ro says:

      Should be all…

    • Sally McLinn says:

      The #’s are attiributable to 2 football games on opposite channels.

    • PatriciaLee says:

      About 17 years ago, we were a Nielsen family, until we moved. This is data separate from provider machine data, using separate equipment. The cable companies seem to tolerate Nielsen’s random sampling (phone call asking do you want to do this) of their customers, since they would be accused of padding the results if the data only came from their machines…natch. In a 2001 Social Psychology class, the professor said that Nielsen was the most accurate research in the U.S. (maybe the world, one or the other). I don’t know how it stands, now, but it would still be powerful information to trust.

    • sunshine says:

      All numbers come from Nielsen tracking boxes in representative homes. If you are not a Nielsen family no one knows what you watch, no one is counting you. All Nielsen numbers come from those watching live at the time, then they do an estimate of how many of those may DVR and watch later. Everyone knows this is not l00% accurate but there isn’t another way to do it yet so there ya go.

  5. TheloNaGrapso says:

    Who wants to watch 3 hours of this when you can watch something else and just read the results online?

    • Doug Henning says:

      exactly… you had Green Bay on NBC.. Red Sox putting the Yanks out of their misery on ESPN… and the Ramsey thing… I think the Emmy’s need to move away from Sunday night vs NFL frankly.. I did watch it but that’s because I actually do watch all those cable shows..

  6. Drewer says:

    This is a shame b/c this years show was well paced (it finished on time), apropriately funny, full of some great speeches, and just enough surprises to keep it interesting. I thought Kimmel did a great job! But, yeah, I guess when a lot of the nominees aren’t huge ratings draws and everyone spent all afternoon watching football this shouldn’t be that surprising.

  7. Shiela says:

    When you stop caring about being an entertainer and just turn the program into your political social justice warrior soap box people stop caring and tune out. The average american doesn’t want to hear how disunified the country is. They just want the entertainers to go up to take the award thank Jesus, God, family, and friends or whomever and then go sit down.

  8. Anne says:

    I stopped caring about the Emmy Awards because it’s the same handful of shows that get nominated every year. It’s nearly identical year after year. There’s more on tv than those shows.

    • dan says:

      Lots of new winners this year. There were some repeats (Julia L-D, Maggie Smith and Jeffrey Tambor), but most of the acting winners were first timers.

  9. kmw says:

    No surprise about these numbers. Not that those shows and actors that won didn’t deserve it( especially Malek and Maslany) but when the Emmys don’t include more network shows( yes there are plenty of network shows and actors that give Emmy worthy performances) this is what you get. Of course we will get the spiel from the Academy that these awards aren’t popularity contests and then be told to go watch The Peoples’s Choice Awards. Sorry that doesn’t cut it anymore and is leading to the Emmys continual down slide in ratings. And really last nights winners were pretty much the ones everyone predicted ( except lead actor and actress, that was a surprise to me) and when you have that kind of predictability no one wants to watch. The Emmys just aren’t worth watching for a big section of viewers and this isn’t going to change.

    • Eric says:

      I can’t agree with “plenty of network shows and actors” give Emmy worthy performances. Most of network TV is cookie cutter drivel. It’s procedural series after procedural series on NBC, CBS, and FOX. ABC strays away from procedural and instead gives mindless primetime soap operas. The CW has a lot of subpar programming, aside from Jane the Virgin and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. The only shows on network TV that give quality performances are just those: Jane the Virgin and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. The only other network shows that deserve Emmy recognition are American Crime and The Good Wife. But American Crime is already recognized these past 2 years and The Good Wife wasn’t that great for it’s final season. So I have no issue with the fact that nominations are full of HBO, Showtime, Netflix, and other cable/premium cable/streaming services series. They are of a higher caliber.

      • kmw says:

        Well we agree to disagree but like I said at the bottom it wasn’t just that. Almost every single winner was predicted to win. There were also some cable shows that get overlooked as well( Walking Dead and Outlander). Veep may have higher quality than most network sitcoms and JLD is a terrific actress but enough of that one show. And yes Game of Thrones is much better than most network dramas but what you consider to be drivel a lot of fans find good performances from those shows as well. I am not just a network fan either, I think The Americans has been a great quality show, on cable, that until this season got ignored as well. I also love what Regina king does but again two years in a row for her as well? No the Emmys are almost completely repetitive to one side and it isn’t helping their audience. I never thought that Jon Benet mini would out do the Emmys.

      • PatriciaLee says:

        But it sounds like Network watchers would give the numbers. The husband would only check in if NCIS’s, Chicago PD/Fire, Law & Order SVU, Grimm, Elementary, OUaT, Scorpion, Blue Bloods, Prison Break, etc. were featured. Of course, he is not the demo they want. So, now, we need the younger demo to like quality? We never watched an episode of Kardashians, whatever that is, but they are getting $20mil a year. Aha! I guess they needed a different presenter, one that gives fun glitz not just 5 billion hits on the youtube. This is not a snide joke, since we really want the TV industry to succeed, continuing to give choice to the viewers. We’re all in this, together.

    • sarah t says:

      I agree with @kmw, I’m sure there are plenty of shows on regular network television that deserve to be nominated in addition to cable and Netflix. Add to that it’s an election year and I really don’t want to hear a political speech when you get up to an accept an award. Also, I’m not a huge Kimmel fan. He’s kind of “meh” to me so though I recorded it, I’ll likely delete it without even watching (especially TV line included their best/worst moments on here showcasing that the “best” wasn’t really at all). I’m over it.

    • Kim R says:

      I know that I would be much more interested if network TV was represented in a bigger way. The cable shows are excellent but for me I watch much less cable than I do network.

  10. Ames says:

    I think this has a lot to do with the Sunday Night Football game that was on with the Packers/Vikings. It’s a big rivalry that I’m sure many people tuned in for.

  11. TvLover says:

    I was surprisingly shocked that Kate McKinnon won! But I only really cared about the Lead Actress for Drama, which I was really excited that Tatiana Maslany won! The rest of the show was pretty meh winner wise I thought, not nearly enough variety. Thank god for ff.

  12. Ninamags says:

    Well if all these shows on the premium channels and the streaming services get all the awards then I let them broadcast on those channels. That way, the people that have access and watch all these other “channels” already will be familiar with the winners.

    The networks can show other programming. This is the 2nd or 3rd year I haven’t watched the Emmy’s and have no interest in doing so.

  13. Lenora Antunes says:

    It isn’t any wonder why people aren’t watching the Emmys anymore. Just look at who won everything. Viewers are tired of seeing the same crap tv win awards. I quit watching these years ago. Can’t understand why very few network broadcast shows even made the list and there are plenty of them out there. I don’t believe these awards are legit any more, kind of like our presidential elections!!!!!!

  14. Lisa Echerd says:

    Did they really expect people to watch an awards show on Network television that excluded almost every network show in the nominations? Let one of the cable networks host them.

  15. Lauren says:

    That’s too bad. The show was fast-paced (actually ended on time!), the speeches were great and Kimmel pleasantly surprised me.

  16. Sally McLinn says:

    It was up against 2 football games, what do you expect from ratings? I thought Kimmel was great!

    • PatriciaLee says:

      Well, our Comcast box has the capability to record 5 shows, so that wouldn’t have stopped the recorded numbers (however they do that). I forgot about it, and when I asked the husband if he recorded it, being the big football fan, “Are you kidding? There’s nothing there I watch.” I was going to because of Mr. Robot, but I forgot.

  17. Kevin K says:

    With CBS doing next year’s Emmy awards who should be the host: Colbert, Corden or someone else.

  18. Kim R says:

    I am not a watcher of award shows. I’m more of a “zip over in commercials” kind of viewe but I did watch last night and I laughed out loud so many times at Jimmy’s hosting bits. Announcing Bill Cosby was so funny. The looks on people’s faces. I didn’t have too many horses in the race but I was entertained.

  19. auntiemm says:

    I stopped caring about these shows a long time ago. The playing field isn’t level for viewers. Not everyone can afford every streaming, cable or premium channel out there. The shows may be great but why tune in to root for shows you’ve never seen. So unless you’re there for the fashions or the same stale jokes it’s a pass.

  20. Boiler says:

    I am guessing that 2 things in play. One, as important as the Emmy’s may be there are too many award shows. Also many of the shows and actors now nominated are not seen by the majority of people due to the fact they are not network shows

  21. R.O.B. says:

    Sorry Emmys, 3 hours of listening to TV actors’ political beliefs sounded like a real party to me, but I had a thing.

    • Matt Webb Mitovich says:

      Gosh, was it three straight hours of such speeches? I must have somehow missed that.

      • LADY_in_MD says:

        +1 to Matt’s response I must have missed all that too

      • R.O.B. says:

        Did I say 3 “straight” hours? Not sure how many used their speech to get up on their soap boxes, but while I am a fan of good entertainment and the folks that make it possible, I am completely uninterested in their political opinions. I’m not a fan of award shows anyway, but especially not award shows that occur during an election year.

      • Charles says:

        Sarcasm is petty and pathetic. Be better.

    • sunshine says:

      I learned to stay away from Hollywood praising itself years ago because I’m always afraid of the political rants. Most actors are high school educated if that and are the last people I want to hear world affairs from. Hollywood used to be fun and glamor but the new breed doesn’t know their business very well, they think they are important people instead of entertainers. Big dif.

  22. PatriciaLee says:

    Bad news to the ABC organizers of this year’s Emmys. They should just relax and have some voting and prizes for the shows on each network with the highest human body ratings, like a superbowl of network TV, also. It sounds like the younger demo shrugged it off, and with nothing for the older demo, there were no numbers to hide their embarrassment?

  23. PatriciaLee says:

    The husband was shocked at what he called a bias in this JonBenet show, “The other one was more fair.” He said he turned it off after a half hour. I don’t turn on shows about her. So, maybe the younger demo was interested because they had not lived through it?

  24. LayneJ says:

    I believe it’s time for another “split’ in the Emmy’s. Just as the daytime Emmy’s have their own show and categories/competition, I believe it’s time to have a National Network Primetime Emmy’s (which includes only shows from PBS, NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX and the CW) and a second show & competition for Cable Networks & Streaming.

  25. KrisSimsters says:

    I just wanted Screen Junkies to win. Maybe next year…

  26. Maria says:

    A. Hugh Laurie deserved an Emmy for The Night Manager.
    B. I didn’t watch the Emmys and probably never will.
    C. If the ratings are this bad, maybe they should stop televising them altogether. Hollywood can then kiss its own @** on its own time.

  27. Chad says:

    The ratings are down because so much of what gets nominated isn’t seen by most people. Not saying it isn’t award worthy just that most people don’t subscribe to premium cable channels like HBO, FX and Showtime or streaming services like Netflix or Amazon Prime. The ratings were higher back in the day because the majority of the nominations came from broadcast networks that were pretty much accessible to everyone with a television. People had a more vested interest because they’d have had the opportunity to see most, if not all of the nominees and form their own opinions about what should win.

    • Eurydice says:

      Right, and that vested interest was “water cooler” talk the next day. But with a zillion shows on a zillion channels, people pretty much get to watch their own little niche-type programs.

  28. Jack M says:

    I’m not surprised about the ratings. There’s no need to watch an entire awards show anymore, you can just watch the highlights online. Almost immediately, in fact.

  29. Eurydice says:

    Are award shows even a thing anymore? I mean, do the younger viewers care whether somebody gets an Emmy or not? And 3 hours is a really long time in today’s market to spend sitting in one place, hoping that one guy from one show will win one award. At least the Grammys is mostly performances, but acting awards don’t have that advantage. And most everything is online by the next day, anyway.

  30. Paula says:

    I can remember being incredibly excited in anticipation of the Emmy Awards but I haven’t watched the telecast in years. Not since regular network programming began being ignored and the focus shifted to premium channels and the various streaming services. I can certainly afford those options but all of the shows I enjoy are broadcast on the regular networks (and Hallmark Channel). Absolutely zero interest in these ‘flavor of the month’ series and stars!

  31. Anthony says:

    People cared about the Emmys so much more when network mega-hits like Everybody Loves Raymond, Seinfeld, Cheers, Frasier, etc… were raking up nominations. Most of today’s cable nominees only get a fraction of the viewers those shows used to get each week. GoT may be racking up records but that’s all relative to cable.

    As a TV lover for many years, I’ll admit this was the first Emmys I did not watch live. Breezed through it after following catching updates on twitter from TV Guide. It’s just not the same anymore as once was, and I only see it getting worse.

  32. Nero tTVFiddler says:

    This is what television (peak television, the second ‘golden age’ of television) has become – Emmy Awards shows that celebrate cable and streaming services – the ‘new shiny object,’ in which only the few actually recognize the product.
    .
    The television industry celebrates and rejoices at an OTT show getting ten thousand ‘likes’ (where are Netflix or Amazon ‘ratings’?), or an HBO show getting 5 million viewers a week – in total views. Broadcast television series not that long ago (2000?), such as CSI and AI, used to bring in 30 million an episode. Look at the ratings of those Emmy broadcasts from just 10-15 years ago vs. last night. Night and day.
    .
    Peak Television? Television’s second golden age? Really? Who are we kidding?
    .
    Television – heal thyself.

  33. Chris says:

    I don’t think the ratings of the nominated shows have anything to do with the low ratings. I think fans are tired of award shows and the predictability of the winners. Except for supporting actor and actress (drama), the expected winners all won. When Ben Mendelsohn (sp?) is your big surprise, you need to make changes. I was much more interested in the JonBenét Ramsey documentary and the investigative process behind the case.

  34. WWP says:

    I enjoy TV. But I just don’t get the point of the Emmys. I mean they’re doing something they love, they’re very well paid, and very well privileged — why isn’t that enough? That’s so much more than most people get from earning a living; I don’t get their desperate need to get together and self-congratulate themselves even more on their shared marvelousness.

  35. Alex says:

    No one cares about these people.

  36. Marci says:

    I don’t subscribe to any of the streaming services, or watch most of the cable shows that were nominated, so I fast forwarded through most of it. (I record and start watching about a half-hour into the show). I enjoyed Jimmy Kimmel as host–the opening sequence was hilarious. I’m not a fan of Jeb Bush, but I have to give him props for being a good sport.

  37. Jeffrey Sacino says:

    Jimmy Kimble was horribly boating. Keep the damn politics out of award shows. Can’t stand listing to others opinions.

  38. Lyn says:

    The last time I enjoyed Kimmel he was second banana on Win Ben Stein’s Money. So I skipped it. I did enjoy the clip of Matt Damon though.

  39. Terry says:

    You still have many people that don’t have the premium channels, Netflix, etc. Many rural homes still watch the big 3 networks and if there are no nominations coming from them, they have no interest in the Emmys. Plus, with everyone predicting the winners as soon as the nominations are announced, there are people who don’t bother watching. I had 4 friends and family members who didn’t bother to watch because they heard Game of Thrones was gonna win and they had never watched the show. On the other hand, I thought Jimmy Kimmel was a great host and enjoyed the program, but then again, I have all the networks.

  40. DJ Doena says:

    I’ve never watched any of these kinds of shows (not the Globes, Oscars, Grammies, Emmies) because I just don’t see the appeal of having five people on camera focus, selecting one of them and then them thanking their moms for a minute until they leave the stage again and the next five people are selected.

  41. Vicky says:

    I didn’t watch because these shows have turned into actors wanting to shove their political beliefs down your throat!! This is not what the viewership wants and I feel that others didn’t tune in for this reason!!

  42. dmpls says:

    I have trouble watching an awards show, when I can’t watch half the shows on HBO, Netflix, Hulu. And the majority of nominees are from shows on these channels or streaming services.

  43. Paul Joseph says:

    Since the majority of the shows nominated this year were on premium cable or online only the majority of the population, millenials, that watch tv that way are not the target audience for awards shows. If shows on traditional broadcast networks or cable faired better in the nominations the ratings would be higher since the majority of the population still watches tv this way. This is what you get when all the tv executives are only concerned with the 18-30 age group. Low ratings for something those of us over the age 35 would watch if we had shows to root for.