Though the audience grew this year, all still is not well in Emmyland
That CBS' telecast of the Emmy Awards managed to end three years of ratings declines against a huge football match on NBC is something of a minor miracle.
Of course, that has been tried before. Fox had the Emmys for six years, from 1987 to 1992, and ABC also had the award show exclusively briefly in the 1990s.
The problem in the past has been that if one network has the awards on a permanent basis, the other networks will go after them guns-a-blazin'. HBO attempted to make a run for the award show in 2002, and the other networks said if they did, then good luck getting stars to show up. At the time, a CBS spokesman said their network would "no longer participate in the Emmys in any way, shape or form."
"Watch how fast all the others make an extraordinary effort to knock it down," says Tom O'Neil, our resident award expert whose blog Gold Derby is on our sister site The Envelope.
Isn't that already happening? Rival networks no longer lay down against the Emmy Awards. NBC has football and, while it's true that ESPN used to have football on Sunday night, it was not as big a threat because it was on cable and the NFL is giving NBC better games than it gave ESPN. HBO ran its lineup last night that included "Entourage" and "Curb Your Enthusiasm," while AMC ran a new episode of "Mad Men."
"There was an honor among thieves; those days are gone," observed one network executive.
O'Neil suggests that, instead of finding one home, the academy should open the bidding to everyone. There would probably be a lot of interest from some cable networks for the awards. While they have the money, odds are the ratings would take a big hit if the show ended up rotating around a bunch of cable networks and broadcast networks. O'Neil argues that award shows should not be judged by their ratings performance, but without a large enough audience, then advertising dollars fade. And without ad dollars, there goes the show.
— Joe Flint
Photo: Neil Patrick Harris. Credit: Kevin Winter / Getty Images.