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As Emmy ratings hit new low, 42% of Americans say entertainment awards shows are 'meaningless'

TV's biggest night sees 25% drop in viewership

Emmy award
An Emmy statue is seen on the red carpet ahead of the 74th Emmy Awards at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, California, on September 12, 2022. |

More than 40% of Americans believe that the Emmys and other award shows are “meaningless,” according to a new poll.

The survey of 1,000 Americans conducted earlier this summer by OnePoll found just 34% were planning to watch the 74th Primetime Emmy Awards on Sept. 12 — a finding that seemed to be confirmed after ratings for the television gala fell to another new low.

Of those who said they watch at least 15 hours of TV every week, more than half (53%) said they were uninterested in the Emmys.

One reason for the lack of interest appeared to stem from what survey respondents said was a disconnect between the Television Academy and the average TV viewer.

More than four in 10 (44%) said they believe the Academy is “out of touch” with TV audiences, while a similar number (43%), said the Academy could improve on how it chooses who to nominate.

Another fact, according to the survey, could be the overwhelming volume of content that audiences have to sift through, with the average respondent saying they have at least eight shows on their list of must-see TV.

The poll’s results were released days before the latest Emmy ratings showed viewership for the awards show hit a fresh low following a slight rebound in 2021. 

The NBC broadcast brought in an average of 5.92 million viewers, marking the first time the Emmys drew fewer than 6 million people.

It’s also a 25% drop from last year’s broadcast on CBS, which drew about 7.81 million viewers.

ABC’s semi-virtual broadcast in 2020 drew the next-lowest ratings, with 6.36 million tuning in.

While the pandemic undoubtedly leveled viewership for awards shows across the board, the rise of real-time reporting and social media has diminished the glitz and glamour of the Emmys and other Hollywood events.

Meanwhile, the pandemic has no doubt eroded at least some of the cultural value of shows like the Emmys — particularly among Christians, many of whom have been turned away by subtle anti-Christian jabs like in 2018, when host Michael Che said, “the only white people that thank Jesus are Republicans and ex-crackheads."

Back in 2007, comedienne Kathy Griffin ignited a cultural firestorm after she said, “Suck it, Jesus” during an acceptance speech at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards.

Griffin made the remark after receiving the award for Outstanding Reality Program for her show "My Life on the D-List."

"I guess hell froze over," said Griffin. "A lot of people come up here and thank Jesus for this award. I want you to know that no one had less to do with this award than Jesus."

Holding up her statuette, Griffin topped off her off-script speech by saying, "Suck it, Jesus. This award is my god now."

While such controversial moments often make for strong ratings, professor Darrell Bock of Dallas Theological Seminary says the true value of these awards stretches beyond mere winners and losers.

“The significance of the Emmys is not about who wins the awards or even if award shows have a value. It is that they are a window into understanding our culture,” Bock told The Christian Post. “Who and what wins, and why, gives us a glimpse of what people are drawn to in our world.”

Such glimpses, Bock added, can “be bridges to have a discussion about things that matter.”

“That is because sometimes the issues raised in entertainment touch on serious life questions or play humorously with them,” he said. “So how we approach the arts in our culture is not so much about who wins, but why — along with what — they are raising.”

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