The 73rd annual Television Academy Awards show, which aired Sunday on CBS, saw viewership rise to 7.4 million, according to Nielsen’s preliminary figures.
While audiences were 16% larger in 2021 than last year, the best Hollywood award shows have seen a decline in viewership over the past decade. Last year’s mostly virtual show drew a total of just 6.3 million viewers – an all-time low.
Even the Oscars have suffered. Last April’s ceremony had the fewest viewers the award show has ever received. At the February Golden Globes, ratings fell 60% to just 6.9 million viewers, from 18.3 million viewers in the previous year.
It’s very possible that these shows are attracting more attention than reported, as Nielsen’s data doesn’t include numbers for viewers watching on streaming platforms. Still, it seems that the public has become largely disinterested in these ceremonies.
And who can blame them? These ceremonies, lasting more than three hours, can feature 16 to 20 minutes of advertisements every hour and are often full of non-funny sketches that seem to make the ceremonies even longer.
Sunday’s show got off to a raucous start, with host Cedric the Entertainer opening the night with a karaoke rendition of Biz Markie’s “Just a Friend,” aided by Rita Wilson, LL Cool J and Lil Dicky.
The audience, including some 500 nominees and guests, joined in, stood up, clapped and sang along. The energy level was infectious during the show’s first hour as “Ted Lasso” took home two consecutive acting awards, sparking emotional speeches from first-time winners Hannah Waddingham and Brett Goldstein.
Then that energy went away. Aside from a stellar cast of “Schitt’s Creek,” presenting top drama and comedy directorial awards, and a pre-recorded sketch featuring popular actors who didn’t win Emmy awards, most of the comedic interludes featured during the night flopped.
This included a brief sketch of Cedric interacting with his previous TV wives, a brief Met Gala joke featuring cast members from his CBS show “The Neighborhood,” and Cedric inserting himself in notable TV moments like the Vice Presidential debate.
Sunday’s Primetime Emmys did have some stiff competition, as they coincided with a soccer game between the Baltimore Ravens and the Kansas City Chiefs, which had 17.69 million viewers.
Correction: A preliminary audience size was used in an earlier version of this story. According to a final count, last year’s show was watched by 6.3 million viewers, according to Nielsen.