Going Hostless: Emmy Takes Cue from Oscar, Searching for Ratings

If you are an “award season” buff, or maybe even do the whole “watching party” thing, you noticed something peculiar about last year’s Oscars — there was no host.

The announcement happened as a result to absolve the entire Kevin Hart tweetage imbroglio, and many scoffed critics and fans at the idea. But a funny thing happened on the way to the exit following the 2018/2019 Academy Awards — it worked.

The 2017 Oscars received its lowest ratings ever. It was just bad (i.e., writing, transitions, acts, lack of comedy). Then, the Kevin Hart thing, so Oscar did what they had to do. The experiment worked giving Oscar a significant uptick in viewers who stayed throughout the entire show.

Of course, some butthurt former hosts claims the reason for the ratings spike had to do with a shorter show, not the lack of comic relief.

“The fact that the ratings on the Oscars were higher is because the show was shorter,” Jimmy Kimmel told CNN. “If they do the same thing this year, everyone will find that was the case. But I personally remember Billy Crystal hosting and Steve Martin hosting, and for me, I wasn’t as interested in the acting awards as I was in seeing how these comedians that I liked would handle the show.” 

He’s not wrong, but as they say in entertainment, “the show must go on.”

The Going On

emmy stage
Source: AP/Beverly Hills 

Although Kimmel has a point for the comedic flair skilled hosts have offered in the past, Deadline reported one thing Kimmel missed:

Shorter than usual for the first time in several years, that’s a distinct ratings rise for the Academy of Motion Picture Art and Sciences’ show. In fact, in an era when awards shows across the board have been taking viewership and demographic hits, last night’s Oscars was up 9% over last year’s Jimmy Kimmel-hosted affair.

This apparently got Emmy–specifically, its producer FOX–thinking and subsequently, decided to go hostless for the 71st Emmy Awards.

“The decision will allow the September ceremony to dedicate more time to the television shows nominated for honors,” said Fox Entertainment CEO Charlie Collier at a “gathering of industry reporters.”

That “gathering” was the network’s portion of the Television Critics Assn. press tour. If anyone is going to make a statement about the future of any brand they handle, that’s the time to do it. And Fox did.

70th Emmy Awards

“Our job is to assess how to elevate the program in the year we’re lucky enough to broadcast it,” Collier said. “What’s interesting to me this year is how many shows we’re saying goodbye to. You have to look at the trade off. If you have a host and an opening number, that’s 15-20 minutes that you don’t have to salute the shows.”

Despite dedicating time slots to say goodbye to TV juggernauts like Game of Thrones, the assessment was what happened last year:

The decision to go without a host also comes following last year’s disappointing ratings. The 2018 ceremony on NBC averaged a 2.4 rating among adults 18-49 and 10.2 million viewers, making it the least-watched Emmys on record. “Saturday Night Live Weekend Update” anchors Michael Che and Colin Jost hosted last year, to mixed reactions.

So, while FOX CEO is waxing altruistic and focusing on the benefit of the show to focus on the awards and series finales, just follow the money. No viewers equal less sponsors. Less sponsors equal no money in the coffers.

Will it work? If Oscar is any proof, yes. Do you like this trend in award shows? Do you find it entertaining to watch a show moderated by time instead of a person? We’ll see.

The 71st Emmy Awards will air on Sept. 22.


NOTE: Featured Image Courtesy of Chris Pizzello/Invisionvia AP, 2017

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