2022 Emmy Ratings Analysis 

Awards Shows Losing Luster
Cheyne Gateley/VIP

How suddenly dreams end. 

That’s what NBC and Television Academy executives would have been thinking about as the audience figures for the 2022 awards came in at the lowest level ever recorded (5.9 million total viewers, an 18-49 audience share of 1.09). 

The hope will have been for a much different reality, geared around the the Emmys’ 2021 performance, when it bucked the awards show trend and registered an audience increase of 23.1%, to see the highest viewership in three years. 

VIP+ demonstrated in June 2022 that awards shows hadn’t recaptured their pre-pandemic heights, suggesting some of the boosts seen this year would be temporary. In fairness, the new audience low is “only” half a million viewers down from 2020’s prior baseline, but that won’t stop network executives from fretting. 

The story gets even worse when looking at the data through the lens of the key advertising demographic: 18-49s. 

Those declines are much steeper than total audience. As VIP+’s subscriber report “The Demographic Divide” notes throughout, younger consumers are engaging with content very differently from before, and an effort needs to be made to reach them on their own terms — before it is too late. 

What is certain is that no awards format is safe from viewers departing. Music ceremonies have seen tremendous declines in recent years. What is worrying about the performance of the Emmys is it's a celebration of television.  

With interest hitting record lows, this suggests either of two things: Most viewers no longer feel that the TV industry’s awards reflect their own tastes — let’s not forget that TV’s most popular drama, “Yellowstone,” was snubbed for nominations again — or with increasing numbers of people foregoing TV for other entertainment, the golden age of television is over. 

Perhaps it's time to move the Emmys to a time when it won’t be going up against NFL football. It surely didn’t help that ABC simulcast the first “Monday Night Football” game of the season. But decisions that break with tradition are tough for old suits to swallow. Another would be leaning into a popular social platform to make the awards more relevant for younger viewers — again, something that will be tough for those at the top to countenance. 

But to defy ratings gravity means audiences will continue to dwindle. TV’s once proud showcase may hit a sub-5 million low within the next year or two unless something drastic is done. The question is whether the TV Academy board of directors will have the courage to do it.