The Emmy Awards

On the Eve of a New Broadcast Season, Emmys Ratings Drop to a Record Low

That was Monday’s headline almost everywhere. Here’s my theory. The Emmys honor excellence in TV. This year’s nominees include: Game of Thrones (HBO), Veep (HBO), Transparent (Amazon), Masters of Sex, Shameless & Homeland (Showtime), House of Cards, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Grace & Frankie (Netflix) and network programs Modern Family, Black-ish, Mom, The Good Wife. An impressive list, but very few shows or performers from traditional networks were deemed worthy of receiving a nomination.

Want to know why no one is watching? According to Nielsen’s most recent estimate, there are 118.4 million TV homes in the US. This includes homes that subscribe to cable, satellite, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and any of the other services out there. About 71 million homes subscribe to cable or satellite, Netflix’s subscriber base in the US is estimated at 47 million, Amazon Prime boasts 54 million subscribers and Hulu has 12 million subscribers. See where I’m going? While households may subscribe to more than one service, not one has the household coverage of the traditional networks. And, therein lies the problem with the Emmys. They are honoring well produced, scripted and acted programs that a small percentage of America have access to – no wonder interest in the Emmys is falling off! The people who watch the Emmys are Middle America, 45+ and those that subscribe to Netflix are 18-44. Don’t assume that the 18-44 year old will watch the show; they’re going to catch up on winners, if they care, via Twitter or Facebook and don’t expect your traditional TV audience to care if House of Cards wins. They want to know if The Big Bang Theory wins. And they very well are part of the households that don’t subscribe to Netflix! Know your audience people!

TV programs, like advertising messages, are targeted to certain audiences and when the content appeals to only a small portion of the audience, engagement or in this case, viewership, is going to decline. Again, know your audience. Know who you are trying to reach, craft the message that will engage that audience and find the best tactic to reach that audience and you will have great ratings!

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