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THE RATINGS

No award for Emmys' viewership Lacking in younger numbers

September 23, 2008|Scott Collins | Times Staff Writer

Maybe those ad whizzes on "Mad Men" should come up with a marketing campaign to boost the Emmys.

After handing the outstanding drama series prize to the stylish but little-watched AMC series about the ad industry in the early 1960s, Sunday's 60th annual Emmy Awards picked up their own ratings booby prize, delivering the ceremony's worst numbers since at least 1990.

An average of 12.2 million viewers tuned in to ABC's three-hour event, slipping 5% compared with last year's telecast on Fox, according to early data from Nielsen Media Research. This year's tally looked to be the lowest since Nielsen started using "people meters" in 1987. However, final figures to be released today will likely rise a bit after statistical adjustments, in which case this year's outing might tie or brush past the 12.3 million Fox earned in 1990.

But the news was particularly bad regarding the young-adult viewers sought by advertisers as well as by TV academy officials who seeking to keep the ceremony relevant. The ABC broadcast earned an all-time-low rating of 3.8 among viewers ages 18 to 49, for a 12% dive compared with last year. This was the first year the Emmys dipped below a 4.0 rating among viewers 18 to 49.

ABC declined to comment.

The fault may not lie simply in the low-rated shows honored by Emmy voters, including "Mad Men" and "30 Rock," which took the top comedy trophy. The Emmys faced tough competition from a Dallas Cowboys-Green Bay Packers game on NBC (which averaged 16.6 million viewers for the night).

And then there was the Emmy show itself: Co-hosted by reality emcees Tom Bergeron, Heidi Klum, Howie Mandel, Jeff Probst and Ryan Seacrest, the telecast was savaged by critics. The Times' Mary McNamara wrote, "The show never quite recovered from its unforgivably bad opener or its less-than-useless hosts."

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scott.collins@latimes.com

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