The host-less Emmys were a ratings disaster

Emmys 2019.
(Image credit: Eric Gay/ Associated Press)

The producers of this year's Emmys were hoping to replicate the success of the Oscars with a host-less show. It didn't work.

Emmys viewership was once again down this year, with Sunday's broadcast reaching yet another new ratings low. Nielsen estimates just 6.9 million people watched the 71st Primetime Emmy Awards in the U.S., down 32 percent from 10.2 million last year, Reuters reports. That's the biggest ratings decline of the major awards shows in 2019, The Hollywood Reporter writes.

No one hosted the Emmys this year for the first time since 2003, with Fox Entertainment CEO Charlie Collier noting in August, "The Oscars did very well. That was something we paid attention to." Indeed, when the 91st Academy Awards went without a host in February, the fast-paced show earned surprisingly positive reviews, and ratings improved for the first time in five years.

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But Sunday's Emmys revealed there's a danger in going without a host, as the broadcast was widely panned for feeling disjointed and chaotic. In the show's biggest blunder, actor and comedian Thomas Lennon was recruited to fill the host void by providing commentary, which earned derision on social media throughout the night. His jokes often fell flat when they were audible at all, and at one point, he stumbled before reaching his punchline and said live on the air, "this is why people don't do this, because it sucks."

The Emmys' ratings failure comes despite the fact that the show celebrated the final season of Game of Thrones, with HBO's television phenomenon taking home the top drama prize. But ratings for award shows in general just keep falling as streaming-focused viewers lose interest in live events, and without an obvious Thrones equivalent next year, the Emmys could be in for even more trouble.

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