Don’t get me wrong. I love “Mr. Robot,” but it barely averages three-tenths of a rating point among Adults 18-49 (and that’s live + 7).
Of the seven Best Drama nominees, only one, HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” generates a 2.0 rating or higher (and more than half the country doesn’t receive HBO). The only other drama nominee to get even a 1.0 rating is AMC’s “Better Call Saul.” Not a single broadcast drama was nominated this year. And the top-rated broadcast dramas are still, with a few exceptions, significantly more popular with viewers than either cable or streaming shows.
Of the seven Best Comedy nominees, only ABC’s “Modern Family” and “Black-ish” get more than a marginal audience. “Veep,” the perennial winner for Best Comedy or Best Actress in a comedy series, barely generates half a rating point among Adults 18-49.
Hollywood, critics, and the television industry love many of the nominated shows, but the majority of viewers hardly know they exist, much less watch them. If you asked 100 random people on the street if they watch Amazon’s “Transparent” or Netflix’s “Master of None,” I’d guess that one might say yes, while the other 99 would say they’d never even heard of those shows.
That’s not to say that the great Jeffrey Tambor (“Transparent”) and Rami Malek (“Mr. Robot”) didn’t deserve to win for their extraordinary performances. But there is no question that if dramas like “The Walking Dead” (the highest rated show on television, which also had a great season), and other popular series, such as “Empire,” “Big Bang Theory,” “NCIS,” “Quantico,” “Major Crimes,” and “Blacklist,” were also nominated, it would have generated more interest in the Emmys.
The Academy Awards increased the number of movies nominated beyond the traditional five mainly so some of the more popular movies would make the list. Motion Picture Academy strategists understand that ratings are almost always higher when movies that more people have actually seen are nominated.
Is there anything that can be done to improve The Emmy Awards ratings next year? I have some suggestions, although I doubt they will be implemented.
Break out the major awards into three overarching categories: Broadcast, Basic Cable, Premium Cable/Streaming. It’s not really fair to the broadcast network series that produce 18-22 episodes per season, to compete with series that only have to create 10-13 episodes and do not have the same sex, violence, and language restrictions (and no real deadline for when they need to start their new season).
Let viewers vote online or by phone for the three categories, and announce the overall winners during a separate hour-long show the following night. During that show, since there will only be three series competing in each category -- Best Drama, Best Comedy, and Best Actor and Actress -- there will be time to show extensive clips of each show and performance. This might even encourage viewers to find some of the shows they’ve never heard of before.
Maybe this will work, and maybe it won’t. But it is worth trying. Otherwise, I’m not sure why any broadcast network would want to continue airing a telecast that minimizes the value of its own product.