2019 Prime Time Emmys Fail to Deliver Viewers

The annual broadcast celebrating the small screen was dull, dumb, and sunk to new viewership lows.

A story in Variety today reports that the telecast drew a paltry 6.9 million viewers for a 1.6 rating and represents a one-third drop in the number of viewers from 2018 and 2017. Furthermore, the story says that figure is sixty-six percent lower than a mere six years ago, when twenty million watched.

This is startling, considering that the fare on television right now is far better than what’s showing at the local cineplex. Shows like The Handmaid’s Tale, Stranger Things, Succession, Billions, Ozark, Killing Eve, and the now award-winning Fleabag represent the future of entertainment. These shows are all on cable. If not for the politics, Saturday Night Live, and the return of Adam Sandler to the show that made him famous, the big networks would have nabbed a big zero for the night.

The producers of this fiasco have only themselves to blame. They decided to go hostless. The “announcer” was mildly funny. Only one of the gags was even humorous (the Bob Newhart bit) and they don’t seem to understand that dance numbers are best saved for the Tony awards show.

Even more of a head scratching moment were the several times when the nominees were not announced by the presenters, who were merely brought in to read the winner’s name. Furthermore, in some of the writing and directing categories, only the name was announced, leaving viewers to guess what program they won for, until that person starting thanking people from the stage. No live orchestra, only music soundbites as the show went in and out of commercial break.

If I were producing this program, it would be about celebrating the medium itself. There would be many, many more moments dedicated to television history, perhaps beginning with flashbacks to winners of 10, 20, 30, 40 years ago. More history. More clips. More living legends. One of the few moments like that during the broadcast was the tribute to the shows who aired their final seasons in 2019. The powers that be really need to run some of this by someone outside of Hollywood.

I’d like to volunteer.