Ratings for the 69th Annual Emmy Awards followed a trend Sunday night, as Americans tuned out of Hollywood’s self-aggrandizing in record numbers.
According to Nielsen Media Research, the Emmys scored an abysmal 8.2 overnight rating — about 11.2 million viewers — and dropped more than 2% in viewership from last year’s show. The show also scored a 2.8 rating within its target demographic of young adults between 18 and 35 — a record low.
CBS might be disappointed, but it’s not as though the Colbert-helmed show was destined for greatness. According to Nielsen, the Emmys have lost nearly 50% of their viewership since 2013, and ratings are the lowest they’ve been since the early 1990s. Last night’s Emmys was the lowest-rated in history, but it only barely edged out last year.
The Emmys didn’t even win in its own timeslot. More viewers tuned in to Sunday Night Football (although that, too, slipped from the same Sunday last year).
Obviously, the Emmys have become nothing more than one of several prime time opportunities for Hollywood elitists to fete themselves, and last night was no exception. Although he started his monologue by claiming television was an “escape from reality,” nearly every award went to a show that marketed itself as a “timely” response to Trump’s America — making, of course, the Emmys a celebration of just how television isn’t much of an escape at all.
Most Americans simply aren’t interested in sitting through four hours of remarkably rich people who chastise themselves for their own lack of diversity, lecture Americans on having proper political opinions — or, for that matter, having the shockingly wealthy citizens of Hollywood, California, lecture Americans on how “real America” really is. They live it. They know.
But there was an interesting tinge to last night’s Emmy’s broadcast. Even as the host and guests derided the President, it appeared they were deliberately — and, perhaps, desperately — goading the President into tweeting about them, baiting Donald Trump for publicity. It makes sense: like Twitter, which would lose billions in value if the President were to shutter his account, Hollywood needs Trump to find it problematic in order to survive.
They were almost begging Trump, whom they hate, to attack them, to make them relevant. Without positioning themselves as a foil to Trump, celebrities are only mildly interesting. But their “resistance” didn’t work; Trump ignored the unseemly display; they didn’t even get a tweet.
Maybe next year.