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Emmy Ratings Are Good, Not Great

September 24, 2002|BRIAN LOWRY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The 54th annual Emmy Awards yielded solid but unspectacular ratings, improving markedly from last year's twice-delayed, World Series-battered ceremony while falling short of the tune-in achieved in 2000.

Preliminary estimates indicate that 19.8 million people were watching NBC's telecast of the show at any given moment--a 16% increase over a year ago, when the Emmys were postponed until November and had to compete with the seventh game of the series.

The audience was down, however, from two years ago, when the awards drew 21.8 million viewers. Overall, Sunday's broadcast represented the second most-watched Emmys of the past six years, just ahead of the last time NBC carried them in 1998.

The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, which organizes the awards, was hoping for strong ratings to help bolster its case for a more lucrative television rights fee. A four-year agreement in which the Emmys rotated among the major networks concluded with this year's ceremony.

By way of comparison, Sunday's audience was smaller than that NBC generated in January with the Golden Globe Awards and slightly higher than viewing of the Grammy Awards in February.

NBC estimates that more than 40 million people watched at least a portion of the broadcast, which ran for more than three hours.

This year's Emmys did have to compete with HBO's "The Sopranos," which drew a record audience for the pay cable channel with its fourth-season premiere last week. Audience totals for that program were not available, with final rating averages for both to be issued today and published Wednesday.

The network also telecast an hourlong Emmy pre-show, "Countdown to the Emmys," which averaged a mere 6.9 million viewers.

Locally, the awards were watched by 18% of homes in KNBC's viewing area, or roughly 960,000 of the region's 5.3 million households.

As usual, the Emmys performed disproportionately well in big cities, including Los Angeles.

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