Because nothing says “celebration of TV industry” like a Monday in August, NBC and the TV Academy on Tuesday said they had picked August 25 as the airdate for this year’s Primetime Emmy Awards. NBC yanking the Emmys out of its traditional night-before-the-start-of-the-TV season berth to make way for the network’s Sunday football package is not news — the network has done it twice already, in 2006 and 2010. And both times NBC aired the trophy show on a Sunday in August. But a Monday in August was news and caused a kerfuffle yesterday. Eyebrows were raised until they threatened to disarrange hairlines as the media wondered why a company that had enjoyed recent Emmy success with NBCUniversal-produced Downton Abbey, and that had such high hopes for this year’s Emmys what with Universal TV’s freshman comedy for Fox, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, having cleaned up at the recent Golden Globes, would toss the trophy show on a Monday in August.
After yesterday’s news broke, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences issued a statement pointing the finger at NBC. “Each year it is the responsibility of the host network to schedule the Primetime Emmy Awards,” Academy president and COO Lucy Hood said, cueing up a certain amount of industry snarking about the wisdom of putting a broadcast network in charge of picking the best date to air what’s become the CableACE Awards. “With NBC, there is the added element of the NFL schedule, which typically pushes the date back into late August,” Hood continued, adding, “We look forward to working with NBC as we begin to plan the 2014 Primetime show.”
NBC had intended to air this year’s Emmycast on August 24, according to a report published five months ago. Based on that date, plans had been locked in for the so-called Creative Arts (aka non-televised) portion of the two-night trophy-dispensing ceremony. What changed NBC’s mind? Fear of Miley Cyrus: According to several press reports, the date was changed to Monday when it was discovered the MTV Video Music Awards would be held Sunday, August 24.
MTV wasn’t keeping this a secret. Last May the network sent around an announcement that, in round numbers, read like this: “MTV knows how to throw a raucous party, and like any good host, we’re sending out our save-the-date cards nice and early. So mark your 2014 calendars: the MTV Movie Awards will air on Sunday, April 13, while the Video Music Awards will take the stage on Sunday, August 24.”
Miley Cyrus changed the VMAs this year when she twerked Robin Thicke while they performed a medley of this and that, not that anyone was listening closely. The much navel-lint-gazed-over show clocked an average of 10 million viewers and a 5.2/14 demo rating (laps ahead of previous year’s 2.8 demo rating and 6.1 million viewers overall). Meanwhile, last time NBC aired the Emmys, that comparable Sunday in August of 2010, it logged 13.5 million viewers and a 4.1/12 demo ratings.
Meanwhile, last year’s Emmycast on CBS delivered the trophy show’s biggest crowd in eight years and its best demo stats in seven years – thanks in large measure to a football lead-in. An average of nearly 18 million viewers tuned in to the ceremony, which logged a 4.9/13 in the demo – both big jumps compared to previous year’s Emmycast.
NBC has its work cut out for it, lacking any Sunday afternoon football with which to goose the ratings on the first weeknight Emmycast since the show took on a live-across-the-country play pattern. That said, 75% of the country’s TV viewers live in the Eastern and Central time zones. And West Coast markets typically get to rerun trophy shows at 8 PM after the live broadcast wraps, with those numbers woven into the show’s ratings.
And, in conclusion, PUT levels on Monday nights last August were slightly … higher than on Sunday nights.