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Low Viewership and COVID-19 Jokes Headline 73rd Annual Emmy Awards

by John McCormick Jr.

On Sept. 19 the 73rd Primetime Emmy Award show took place in downtown L.A while being aired on CBS and Paramount plus.

Seth Rogan made a big splash with remarks about the venue as he cracked several jokes about COVID-19 protocols. Producers Ian Stewart and Reginald Hudlin were not thrilled with Rogan, according to an article published in The Hill, as they were given the green light from L.A County officials that their outdoor tent with over 100 guests was safe.

“There are way too many of us in this little room,” Rogan said. “ I would not have come if I was aware of this situation. We’re in a hermetically sealed tent right now.” 

Jason Sudeikis, the writer of the show Ted Lasso on Apple TV exclusive and Saturday Night Live alumnus, won several awards. Alongside Sudeikis, Hannah Waddingham and Brett Goldstein won Outstanding Supporting Actress and Actor in a Comedy Series. The crew of actors and actresses of Ted Lasso won Outstanding Casting for a Comedy Series

In recent years, the Emmys have been hitting all time low ratings, but according to Nielsen data, this year had 7.4 million viewers; a 16% increase from 2020.

Many people have been lacking interest in the annual award shows throughout the years as in 2020 there were 6.36 million viewers and only a 1.3 rating among their target audience (18-49).

Nielsen ratings are very important when it comes to TV programs as they provide data that helps determine the cost of the program. Nielsen can also see trends in viewership and shows who their audience is. 

“I stopped watching all of the award shows a couple years back,” said April Caramanica, an avid viewer for years. “The show became very biased after a while and became less entertaining to watch.” 

As time goes on, award shows become irrelevant in some suburban homes due to most shows becoming redundant. The entertainment aspect has declined and people brush off the big award shows as there appears to be more entertaining shows on other streaming services.

Furthermore, we live in a day of age where we can simply check Twitter to see who won what awards instead of taking time out of our day to sit on the couch and watch the entire award show. In most cases viewers of The Emmys are tuning in to see if their favorite shows or actors and actresses win awards.  

Viewers that claim the Emmys and other award shows are becoming political is no surprise. The Emmys have received heavy criticism throughout the years as the show has lacked diversity in nominees and especially winners. 

“It was disappointing,” said Darnell Hunt, dean of social sciences and professor of sociology and African American studies at UCLA. “It becomes a numbers game after a while. When you have 44% of the nominees that are people of color and you have 0% that win, there’s something structural going on.”

This issue of diversity when it comes to credibility and awards is not a new concept as a lot of minority content creators, actresses, actors, etc. live in the shadows of predominantly white public figures. Several news articles such as CNBC and Variety have come out after award shows such as the Emmys and question the authenticity of the whole thing. 

In the 2021 Emmys, half of the nominees were minorities, yet all 12 lead roles and supporting cast members that claimed an award were white. 

Receiving an Emmy is a very prestigious award in the entertainment industry which can lead to a boost in pay and the ability to step up into bigger roles. There is no doubt that in various industries across the nation there has been bias, but if the conversation heats up and gains traction hopefully there will be some change.

“I think it is unfair to all of the talented minorities in the production industry,” said Kristen Julich, senior studying political science at UT. “I stopped watching award shows because of that, minorities need more credibility.” 

Award shows such as The Emmys have a target audience that is unappealed by the outcomes which has led to poor ratings in the past. Last year’s low ratings could have been just a fluke as the show was aired in the peak of the pandemic. The population had more things to worry about than watching famous million-aires win awards. 


If changes are not made in award shows such as the Emmys, ratings will continue to go down as Nielsen data shows.

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