According to USA Today, the 71st Emmy Awards this year had the lowest number of viewers since the award show started to track its viewership data in 1990. A total of 6.9 million people tuned into Fox to watch, which had no host.
This is not a new trend for the award show. The previous lowest viewed show was in 2018 which had 10 million viewers according to USA Today. This year’s show was a 33% decrease from last year.
“Pop culture now is a lot more fragmented than it used to be. Everybody would pretty much watch the same TV shows and go to the same movies, listen to the same music roughly and now there’s hundreds of channels and streaming, and all these other, TiVo’s, still DVDs and all this stuff, so there isn’t as much of a common culture. So, I would say most people probably haven’t seen most of the shows that are up for the Emmy’s or the movies that win the Oscars,” Charles Coletta, a professor in the pop culture department, said.
The decline in the amount of people who watch award shows has not been a recent event.
“I would say it has been the last 20 years with the rise of cable,” Coletta said.
Coletta talked about how, with award shows like the Emmy’s, medical shows could be going up against shows like “Game of Thrones” that has a bigger budget.
The Emmy’s are not the only award show to see a decrease in the number of viewers. According to Statista, 2014 was the last year that the Oscars had more than 40 million viewers, with 43.7 million. From 2015 to 2017, the number of viewers were in the 30 million range. But the last two years, it dropped off to the 20 million range.
“It was always a big deal, who was going to host the Oscars or the Emmys,” Coletta said.
In 2019, both the Oscars and the Emmys did not have a host. The Emmys had a decline in viewership this year, but the Oscars had more viewers than in 2018. According to Statista, in 2018, 26.5 million people viewed the Oscars, but in 2019 29.6 million people watched the Oscars.
“I think a host would help. I don’t know if it would make the ratings go up that much, but I think it couldn’t hurt,” Coletta said.
Coletta talked about how today there is an increase in the amount of award shows. There used to be just the Oscars, Emmys, Grammys and Tonys.
“It seems like there are a lot more award shows now then there ever used to be,” Coletta said.
He mentioned how there is now the Golden Globes, the Screen Actors Guild Awards and MTV’s own set of award shows. He said that they can be predictable of who is going to win and that it is more surprising when they do not win.
Sophomore criminal justice major JT Ysseldyke said internet and streaming services could be playing a role into why less people watch award shows.
“Most people are turning to digital media and streaming services rather than cable. This means people can just look up who won what instead of watching and waiting through endless commercials,” he said.
The results of an award show can be found on social media almost immediately after they are announced. If someone wanted to know who won the major awards, they would be able to find them online with a Google search.
One issue that some people have with award shows is that some use it as a platform to make political statements.
“Probably my one complaint with award shows like the Oscars or the Grammys is that politics may be involved in the show itself. Award shows have been established to recognize talent among the entertainment industry, not to make a political statement. When you bring in politics, it takes away from celebrating the handwork and time people have put into their craft,” sophomore music education major, Katrina Carrico, said.
However, Coletta does not feel that the political statements are a new thing to be seen at award shows. It has been happening since the 1960’s and he feels does not have that big of an impact on viewership.
He said award shows used to be something that many people looked forward to watching.
“That (the Oscars) used to be almost like the Super Bowl. Oh, tonight is Oscar night, everybody is going to watch it, that is not the way it is anymore,” Coletta said.
He spoke on award shows trying to gain back the interest of viewers.
“I don’t know what they could do. They seem to be trying everything, but nothing seems to be working,” Coletta said.