Almost Nobody Watches Most Emmy-Nominated Shows, Survey Finds

Master of None
Courtesy of Netflix

Nearly all of the series nominated for best drama or comedy at the upcoming 69th Primetime Emmy Awards have been watched by fewer than half of all potential viewers, according to a new survey from Katz Media Group. Nearly half are shows that 50% or more respondents had never heard of.

Surveying 500 adults — 51% of whom subscribe to a streaming service such as Netflix — Katz found that the most-watched and recognized Emmy nominees aired on broadcast, while the least could be found on cable or streaming.


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The most-watched nominee, according to the survey, is ABC’s “Modern Family,” which had been seen by 56% of respondents. NBC’s “This Is Us” was the second-most viewed at 35%. ABC’s “Black-ish” followed at 28%. The three most-watched series are also the only three broadcast series in contention on Sunday.

“The main takeaway here is that we’re seeing fewer and fewer broadcast series nominated for best drama and best comedy, but the reality of it is that these other series [on cable and streaming] are very well-received and critically acclaimed, but there’s no critical mass behind them,” says Stacy Schulman, executive VP of strategy and analytics for Katz Media Group. “People are still having a hard time finding them. Many viewers don’t even know that they exist.”

Recent years have seen a dearth of broadcast nominees, particularly on the drama side. “This Is Us” is the first commercial broadcast series nominated for best drama since CBS’ “The Good Wife” in 2011.

Netflix’s “Stranger Things” was the most-watched streaming or cable nominee, viewed by 21% of respondents. Netflix’s “Master of None,” Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale,” and FX’s “Atlanta” tied at 5% each for the least-watched of all nominees — although “Master of None” exceeded all nominees in “never heard of” responses, at 76%. Netflix’s “House of Cards” drew the most “heard of, but never watched” responses at 68%.

View the full results of Katz’s survey below:

Source: panel from Katz Media Group. Fieldwork: Sept. 7 to Sept. 12, 2017. Based on 500 Adults 18+. 51% of respondents have access to/subscribe to OTT services.

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  1. JR Ross says:

    This doesn’t bother me at all. In fact, I think the main purpose of the Emmys should be to spotlight great shows and performances that are overlooked or underpromoted. There’s too much good TV out there beyond the traditional big network and cable channels.

  2. Michele Miller says:

    Who cares about the Emmys or Hollywood?! They don’t deserve the money or adulation they receive…most of them are just narcissistic uneducated assholes who have a very high opinion of themselves. The majority of Americans couldn’t care less about watching a bunch of snobby, conceited liberal jerks give their biased political opinions…the election results should tell you that…wake up west coast you lost the election! Of course your candidate was just like you…snobby, crooked and a liar…of course she is educated which is more than most of Hollywood stars… but maybe that’s why you voted for her… you’re too stupid to see what a disgusting person she is!

    • Rob Star says:

      Nobody cares about that vulgar, bigoted, sexist Orange crotch-grabber but you.

    • JR Ross says:

      This doesn’t bother me at all. In fact, I think the main purpose of the Emmys should be to spotlight great shows and performances that are overlooked or underpromoted. There’s too much good TV out there beyond the traditional big network and cable channels.

      • JR Ross says:

        Whoops, didn’t mean to put the above reply to your message. That being said, you’re all over the place. It’s just TV, relax.

  3. Tommy Beard says:

    Why is SNL not on this list? It ties with Westworld for most nominations.

  4. kstormplace says:

    Emmys = Rich people giving each other trophies.

    Hardly anyone cares.

  5. no says:

    Modern Family used to be a great show, but now the quality is that of a middle schooler’s writing. The fact a shows like that, and a show as lame as “Feud” & “Samantha Bee,” are all among the many crappy shows getting Emmy noms is proof of how horrible most TV is currently. Thank God for the Crown though! I only watched it for the first time last month and it’s such a cute & sweet show :D

  6. Joe says:

    People would be tuning in to TV if it offered something interesting to watch . . .

  7. nerdrage says:

    Streaming services offer infinite library “shelf space” and can efficiently reach a huge global audience. This means that the amount of content is going to rocket ever upwards because there’s shelf space for it, and it can be paid for. And that means the content will be ever nichier, appealing to narrower and narrower interests. So this trend that “nobody has heard of X” has only just begun. Envision all the books published every year. How many of them can you name? TV will be like that.

  8. sailingsam says:

    They should have separate categories or make them free for people to watch

    • nerdrage says:

      There should be categories for:

      -Shows that are made for people willing to pay for them.
      -Shows made for the benefit of advertisers because nobody is willing to pay for them.

      But that might be getting a little too honest.

  9. Rod Labbe says:

    There should be different categories for broadcast and cable offerings. I’ve never seen “Veep,” for example, but Julia Dreyfuss continuously wins Emmys for Best Actress in a Comedy. I only saw Stranger Things because I subscribed to Netflix for a month and binge-watched. Shows like “The Middle” are ignored by Emmy voters, and obscure cable offerings and streaming shows are nominated instead. There’s a definite disconnect here. Split the categories and have Best Drama on Broadcast and Best Drama on Cable, right down the line. I can guarantee more people would watch.

  10. Kaboom! says:

    Almost nobody watches the Emmys either, but Nielsen magically inflates the viewership numbers every year just past the previous year’s results.

  11. Jon88 says:

    The highest rated broadcast of the 2016-17 season (Sunday Night Football) was seen by 6.5% of the population of the United States. Most shows are ignored by at least 95% of us. The only real conclusion to be drawn here is that television is a lot less important or universal than the industry thinks it is (or wants it to be).

    • nerdrage says:

      95% of people are probably still watching TV in some form. But only 50% of the population watches sports in any form, ever. Many people avoid all reality shows. Others watch only reality shows. TV (if you include streaming) is still as relevant as ever, but as the content options expand, people indulge their niche tastes more and old mass market options become less attractive because they are less well calibrated to anyone’s individual tastes.

  12. Steve. says:

    That’s could be said about pretty much every artistic field – the lower-quality, easier to understand, more unchallenging material is more popular.

    • yale grad says:

      Oh shut up, Steve. You’re obviously the one who was commenting on the “mother!” review too, right? Are you Darren himself? Or are you one of his little art club friends? As you were reaaaally obsessed with defending that cruddy movie!

      But whoever you are, that’s the thing with desperate to be intellectual people like you though. You all hide behind terms like ‘art for the sake of art’ and pretend you’re just way too intellectual to be successful… When the reality is that you just don’t have what it takes to succeed in this business. As it takes immense talent to write something that is actually enter training and watchable. Very very few can do so for a reason. Most of TV is all the various versions of the same artsy crap (or vagina jokes in the name of feminism) for a reason.

      But you just keep trashing the idea of ‘tentpoles’ and ‘commercial hits’ (they’ve become like curse word with you people, right?!) when all those great classic things you like to pretend make you so smart for watching (e.g. Gigi, From Here To Eternity, Funny Girl, Gone With The Wind, etc.) were deliberately made as tentpoles. And you just keep blaming everyone else for why your career is a dud, when the problem literally is just you…


  13. Francesca says:

    That is an extremely small sample size compared to the millions of people who watch the programming on a regular basis — not enough for the clickbait title “Almost nobody watches.” Only 500 people surveyed, and just over 250 who have access to a streaming service. And what were the demographics of those surveyed? Did they live in metropolitan areas? How old are they? There’s not enough data to extrapolate to the general audience of potentially millions of people from a handful sample. We have to be careful about how surveys are reported and generalized.

    • nerdrage says:

      A big factor: did they compensate for the well known phenomenon of younger people, who use cell phone, avoiding surveys by not picking up for an unfamiliar number? If they didn’t, then they just interviewed grandma and grandpa on their land lines.

  14. Ellie says:

    Emmy noms are insiders nominating the things insiders like.

  15. Movieguy says:

    Just goes to show that the people watching those shows E.g. The Handmaids Tale, are the same people hyping them relentlessly on blogs and sites like this one. Not many people.

    • anon says:

      This! Thank you movie guy :)

      But in regards to @nerdrage, stop trying to make The Handmaids Tale happen. It’s not going to happen. Not even if you gave it to people for free and offered to give then $20 to watch it. It was a drag enough having to read that book in AP Lit in high school… My God…

    • nerdrage says:

      In the case of streaming services, it doesn’t matter if “everyone has heard of it.” What matters is that enough viewers are willing to pay a subscription for it, and make it worth the service’s while to continue to make.

      The economics change radically when you go from the ad-based business model to direct subscription. The latter is far more lucrative. Advertisers don’t pay anything close to $10 or $12 per month for each person watching TV, but that’s what streaming services get directly from their customers via their credit card numbers. What broadcast channel has ever had a database full of the audience’s credit card numbers? So streaming can cater to smaller audiences while still funding expensive shows. The relative ease by which streaming services can go global and tap into vast audiences without increasing costs is the real benefit.

    • Alex says:

      It’s like you’re reading my mind.

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