Emmys ratings rise, while ‘Breaking Bad’ breaks records of its own

September 23, 2013

The ratings are in, and the Emmys seem to have triumphed. And so did the show that just won best drama.

Early numbers say that the Emmy Awards attracted about 17.6 million viewers to Sunday night’s broadcast, according to CBS, making it the most-watched Emmys telecast in total viewers since 2005. (Ellen DeGeneres hosted that year, also on CBS.)

On the other hand, Nielsen has yet to release the final numbers, and there could be adjustments, given that the event was live and there was a football overrun. The down-to-the-wire Buffalo Bills and New York Jets game ended just before 8 p.m., causing the awards to start a few minutes late, and boosting the viewership to more than 19 million in the first hour.

It’s worth noting the numbers did drop steadily across the entire show, as only about 11 million seem to have stuck around until the very end to see “Breaking Bad” win for drama series and “Modern Family” scoop up its fourth consecutive win for comedy. “Breaking Bad,” meanwhile, really did have a great night. In addition to its big wins, the penultimate episode (airing directly opposite the Emmys at 9 p.m. on AMC) nabbed 6.6 million viewers, the most ever in the show’s history. Expect that record to be broken next week for the series finale.

As for host Neil Patrick Harris, he appears to have bested last year’s host Jimmy Kimmel, who scored around 13.3 million viewers. If the numbers hold, NPH will also outdo himself: His last Emmys hosting stint in 2009 had an audience of 13.5 million.

Looking at the Internet this morning, a ratings increase is a surprise — the Web is awash with negative reviews of yesterday’s sleepy, three hour-plus show, filled with memorials to deceased actors and puzzling song-and-dance numbers. And really, what was Elton John doing there?

Putting everything in perspective, the Emmys still remains tiny in comparison to other pop culture award spectacles. During this year’s Academy Awards, 40 million people watched Seth MacFarlane make misogynistic jokes; at the Grammys, a curious audience of 28 million people tuned in to see if any stars broke the dress code. Even about 20 million checked out the Golden Globes to witness Tina Fey-Amy Poehler madness.

The Emmys did draw more viewers than MTV’s VMAs, but not by a huge amount; last month, 10 million tuned in to catch Miley’s twerk-fest and *NSYNC’s reunion.

Twitter-wise, however, the Emmys dominated last night. According to Nielsen company SocialGuide, there were about 927,500 tweets on Sunday about the Emmy Awards, compared with 325,000 for “Breaking Bad,” and just 126,00 for the series finale of “Dexter.”

Emily Yahr is an entertainment reporter and pop culture blogger for the Style section. She joined the Post in May 2008, a week before she graduated from the University of Maryland, and worked on Lisa de Moraes' TV Column and blog.
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