Daytime television has been dying the death of a thousand cuts, and the Daytime Emmy Awards are circling the same drain — probably heading, inevitably, toward a move off broadcast to the less-demanding realm of cable.
The latest telecast predictably plummeted Sunday on the CW, with final ratings showing the average audience at 2.7 million viewers — dropping by half compared to 2008, when the awards aired on ABC.
Frankly, with the daytime soaps being downsized and disappearing, the Daytime Emmy's reason for being is evaporating along with them. Yet if the two TV academies remain committed to mounting the show, then the likely move would be migrating to a cable network where a glitzy night with a couple of million viewers would look like a victory instead of an embarrassment.
Of course, those of us who have been around for a few years remember when ratings for the Daytime Emmys often rivaled the Primetime Awards, driven in part by the will-she-or-won't-she suspense surrounding Susan Lucci's 19 years of futility in terms of finally taking home a statue. Alas, who knew that when the "All My Children" star finally broke her streak in 1999 that her tearful acceptance would be the last time that most of us bothered to pay attention to these awards?
Granted, a decade ago the Daytime Emmys were drawing about five times what the most recent telecast did (see tvbythenumbers for this convenient chart) and were even considered a plum event to air during the May rating sweeps.
It's almost a given that every TV-related event must be televised — think of it as using every part of the chicken — but with these kind of returns, we're looking at more of a snack, not a black-tie dinner.