Emmy telecast is the lowest-rated in 14 years. Only 14 million people watched Sunday's awards ceremony, the fewest since the 1990 show on the then-fledgling Fox network

By Gary Susman
Updated September 21, 2004 at 04:00 AM EDT
Garry Shandling
Credit: Garry Shandling: Kevork Djansezian/AP

Sure, Sunday Emmy winners The Sopranos, Arrested Development, and Angels in America are great TV, but how many people have actually watched them? HBO (home of Sopranos and Angels) reaches only a third of U.S. homes, and Fox’s Arrested has spent its first year struggling to draw an audience. So it’s little wonder that few viewers cared enough to watch these shows pick up trophies on Sunday. According to early Nielsen estimates, ABC’s reality-themed Emmy broadcast drew just 14 million viewers, down 20 percent from last year, when Fox aired the show. In fact, it’s the lowest rating for the awards ceremony since 1990, when just 12.3 million viewers watched.

That year, the show also aired on Fox, a then-new network that few viewers were in the habit of watching. This year, it’s ABC that few viewers are in the habit of watching. The network came in second for the evening opposite CBS, which ran a slate of crime-drama reruns. Next year, when it’s CBS’ turn to air the Emmys, maybe instead of the reality theme, they’ll just call the show CSI: Shrine Auditorium.