Emmys shocker: 2021 ratings rise after last year’s all-time low

More than 7.4 million viewers watched Netflix’s “The Crown” and “The Queen’s Gambit” and Apple TV+ comedy “Ted Lasso” dominate the 2021 Emmy Awards on Sunday night, an increase of 16 percent from last year’s lowest-rated ceremony ever. That still makes the 2021 Emmys the third lowest-rated ever after the 2019 and 2020 shows, but also marks the first time Emmys ratings have increased from the prior year since the 2017 ceremony. Like this year’s Emmys, the 2017 show also aired on CBS.

Hosted by Cedric the Entertainer and featuring a number of major stars — including wins for Jason Sudeikis, Kate Winslet, Jean Smart, and Olivia Colman — the 73rd annual Emmy Awards stopped a streak of awards show viewership attrition that affected nearly every major ceremony. This year’s Oscars were the lowest-rated of all-time, an indignity matched by the Grammy Awards. The Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild Awards also took a beating in total viewers.

Heading into the show, the general expectation was that the Emmys would tumble again after last year’s record low. The show, however, was a return to the pre-pandemic normalcy of awards broadcasts — even if those optics were somewhat controversial, as Seth Rogen joked in the opening moments of the Emmys. “Let me start by saying: there’s way too many of us in this little room,” Rogen said, perhaps speaking for many nervous viewers at home.

But beyond the pomp and circumstance were a slate of popular nominees, a fact that likely helped goose the numbers as well. “The Queen’s Gambit” was one of 2020’s biggest hits, while “Ted Lasso” has seen its popularity and media coverage rise precipitously since its debut in the summer of 2020. Other major favorites included nominees like “WandaVision” and “The Handmaid’s Tale” (both of which went home empty-handed on Sunday night, although “WandaVision” did win three Creative Arts Emmys), and “The Crown” (which won seven trophies on Sunday night).

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