Struggling kudocast has a date but no place

The Daytime Emmys will go on, but on which network remains a question.

The New York-based National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS) is in negotiations with at least two networks, according to sources.

What is likely is that the ceremony will air June 27 (a Sunday) in the West, likely at the Las Vegas Hilton.

With daytime TV’s downturn, the Daytime Emmys have been a ship without a port in recent years. The daytime soap business has been on the decline, with fewer on the air. Ratings for daytime syndicated TV shows also have fallen off, and for the most part, viewers tune into the Daytime Emmys to see their favorite soap stars.

Auds are less interested in seeing Judge Judy and Pat Sajak wear the latest fashions on the red carpet, and daytime’s biggest draw, Oprah Winfrey, stopped entering the contest after dominating the awards for years.

And so over the past 10 years, Daytime Emmys viewership has dropped by 10 million viewers. In 2000, the show aired on ABC on May 19 (a Friday), with nearly 13 million viewers watching. The show turned in a 4.1 rating/13 share among adults 18-49 and a 4.9/13 among adults 25-54, the demographic at which daytime television is aimed.

Every year since then, ratings for the awards show have fallen precipitously. In its last outing on a major broadcast network — on ABC on June 20, 2008 — the Daytime Emmy Awards attracted only 5.4 million viewers and did a 1.2/4 in adults 18-49, a 1.6/5 among adults 25-54.

Last year, the show struggled to find a network home or a primetime slot. The show was originally slated to air on CBS, which at the time was home to four soap operas, but the network ultimately passed, citing the declining ratings and resulting low financial returns.

CBS also was less interested in airing the annual soap-focused kudocast because the network was in the process of at least partially exiting the soap-opera business. Last fall, “Guiding Light” went off the air and was replaced by a remake of “Let’s Make a Deal,” hosted by Wayne Brady. This fall, “As the World Turns” will go out the door after airing on the Eye for 54 years. Remaining on CBS’ air are daytime’s highest rated soap, “The Young and the Restless,” and the only halfhour soap, “The Bold and the Beautiful.”

The option to broadcast the show passed to ABC, which also declined, saying it had no money in its budget to produce and air another awards show. ABC airs three soap operas — “General Hospital,” “One Life to Live” and “All My Children” — and has managed to stay in the soap business by drastically reducing the costs of producing these sudsers. ABC’s parent company, Disney, also owns cable network SoapNet, which gives these shows a second life on cable.

ABC and CBS’ decisions to pass forced NATAS to seek a new broadcast partner, which it found in the CW, a network with a much smaller circulation that targets its programming to young women. The show was shot at the Orpheum Theater in Hollywood, with Associated Television Intl. producing and Emmy-winning producer David McKenzie exec producing. MGM Worldwide Television Distribution handled worldwide distribution, selling the show internationally to defray costs and increase revenue.

The time it took to finding that new partner and complete negotiations pushed the awards show all the way back to Aug. 30, until it was airing just weeks before the Primetime Emmys. In the past, the Daytime Emmys have aired as early as late April but only as late as the end of June.

Sources say the CW is again a candidate to air the Daytime Emmys, even though last year’s ratings hit rock bottom. In 2009, the show’s audience declined by half, with only 2.7 million viewers tuning in. The program didn’t even manage a 1.0 rating among adults 18-49, squeaking out an anemic 0.6/2. Among adults 25-54, the show did just a bit better at a 0.8/2.

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