Cable's Big Show At ABC's Emmys: But Where Were The Cable Viewers?

The Primetime Emmy Awards on ABC not only showed that cable networks have some of the best programming around -- but, more importantly, that viewers don't really care whether cable shows win any awards.

Evidence: This year's awards hit historically low numbers, which meant no one really wanted to see all the stars and executives taking their bows for AMC's "Mad Men," HBO's "John Adams" or FX's "Damages."

A rash of reasons are to blame for the drop in ratings for the TV awards shows -- including that big NFL game across the dial on NBC. But then these numbers have been trending down for some time.

Critics may lap up cable's creativity, and HBO's TV series such as "The Sopranos" have been grabbing those heavy stone and metal paperweights at awards ceremonies. HBO doesn't have the constraints of advertisers watching every one of its moves. Now some of that creativity has moved to basic cable networks, outlets that have advertisers similar to broadcast networks'.



The cable industry takes pride in its prime-time viewership, which now garners a higher overall share of audience than does broadcast prime time.

So why didn't we see an appropriate percentage of all those cable viewers watching the Emmys Sunday night?

I guess their allegiance isn't to cable. Maybe it's just for good TV. Were they watching Cowboys-Packers or "60 Minutes"?

TV awards are a hit-and-miss affair. The idea of the Emmys as an entertaining TV show has fallen on hard times, with the musings of five reality show personalities offering a team-host approach. Good news here: You can't blame just one host; bad comedy can be spread around.

Now cable is talking about taking on the Emmy Award show itself. That will mean broadcast networks with any honored shows can now use the Emmys as an infomercial on cable -- not the other way around, as has been the case for the last few years.

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