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NBC moves Emmys to August; puny ratings to follow


NBC announced Wednesday it is moving the Primetime Emmy Awards to Sunday, Aug. 29. The annual trophy show traditionally airs the Sunday before the start of the TV season, in mid-September.

But NBC has a contract to air NFL football on Sunday nights and those games rev up before the start of the TV season. Hence the Aug. 29 Emmy date.

In its announcement, NBC noted that the last time it aired the Emmys, in 2006 (NBC, ABC, CBS and Fox take turns airing the trophy show), the trophy show also had to air in late August and yet it clocked its biggest audience of the past four years.

It's true, that 2006 Emmycast averaged about 16 million viewers and the next year the show's audience plunged to 13 million after which it only attracted an average of 12.3 million viewers, followed by 13.5 million this past September.

On the other hand, the year before NBC's last Emmycast, 2005, the show logged an average of nearly 19 million viewers.

It's important to note that when NBC broadcast the Emmys in '06, Fox's "24" was named best drama series. The next year, 2007, when the trophy show took a ratings nosedive, HBO's "The Sopranos" was named best drama series.

Likewise, in 2008, AMC's "Mad Men" won the best-drama derby, and won the trophy again in 2008.

Once before, way back in 2004, which yes, is the year before Emmy attracted that crowd of 19 mil, the show also took a plunge, attracting a puny crowd of 14 million. Not coincidentally, in 2004, "The Sopranos" was also named best drama series by TV academy voters.

It would seem that, more important than whether the show airs on August or September, is whether a cable series, with their relatively puny audiences, takes home the trophy for best drama.

Because the show is tape delayed to the west coast, millions of potential viewers are able to find out what shows and what actors have won by the time the broadcast gets underway in their TV market.

This may explain why the Hollywood Foreign Press Association announced in April that its Golden Globe Awards, feting both TV show and films, would air live across the United States for the first time in 2010.

Maybe it's time for the TV academy to give up the time delay - a quaint relic of the past. Otherwise, between the August airdate and the way cable shows seem to have taken over the best-drama derby, you can expect the 2010 Emmy show to suffer quite the ratings punch in the nose.

Oh, and that next Golden Globe ceremony will air Sunday, January 17 at 5 p.m. on both coasts -- on NBC.

By Lisa de Moraes  |  November 18, 2009; 8:36 PM ET
Categories:  TV News  
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