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The next broadcast of the Emmy Awards is fast-approaching, but the 2019 edition won't just be business as usual. The 71st Primetime Emmy Awards will air on Fox without a host, which will lead to a great many differences. After all, although the Emmys air on a different one of Big Four networks each year, the format is generally more or less the same. The 2018 broadcast on NBC was the lowest-rated in the history of the Emmys, and the changes for 2019 raise the question: will going host-less be exactly what the Emmys need for a boost?
How The 2018 Ratings Were All-Time Lows
Let's start with what went wrong in 2018.The 70th Emmy Awards performed well by network standards when they aired on September 17 in NBC's Monday night primetime block, but they were the lowest in the history of the Emmys since ratings first began to be recorded. THR reported that the final Live+Same day numbers for the 70th Emmys totaled 10.21 million viewers and a 2.4 rating.
Those numbers mark a 10% drop in viewership and a 0.1 drop in the ratings from the 2017 totals, which were already some of the lowest in Emmy history. The 70th annual broadcast was hosted by SNL cast members and "Weekend Update" hosts Colin Jost and Michael Che.
Now, there are a lot of variables that went into the 70th Emmys, so we can't just say that people didn't want to tune in to Colin Jost and Michael Che as masters of ceremonies. In my book, they were perfectly adequate and entertaining enough, even if they probably won't be remembered as among the very best. The 2018 broadcast also aired on a Monday, when the Emmys usually air on Sundays. That alone could have thrown off the numbers.
As far as I can recall, the build to the Emmys last year was more or less the same as usual, with Colin Jost and Michael Che doing the usual promotion, and everything proceeding as normal except for the day the awards would air. So, what are the reasons 2019 could be different and give the Emmys a needed boost?
Why 2019 Could Be Different
The Emmys ditching a host for the 2019 broadcast doesn't just mean no monologue and a lack of jokes in between the trophies. The presenters will have more to do than just banter for a few moments before they start naming the nominees. Early presenters will talk about the importance of the TV genres that are being honored, giving context to categories that not all viewers may know enough about to care about.
The Emmys are freshening up into something new this year, and that alone could be enough to recruit viewers to give the show a shot. Promos that would normally feature the host dropping one-liners are replaced by footage that hypes the awards themselves. Throw in the fact that Fox is taking the Emmys back to a Sunday night airing, and there are format and scheduling reasons why 2019 could be a much bigger hit than 2018 was.
There's also the point that some of the biggest shows on television ended in the 2018-2019 TV season, and the 71st Emmys will be the last time Game of Thrones is up to sweep the biggest drama categories of the night. Thanks in part to several self-submitters from the Thrones cast, the show has already made history this year by virtue of the sheer number of nominations. Considering how divisive Season 8 was and the many hot takes after the nominations were announced, I can see the ratings jump courtesy of Game of Thrones fans alone!
Veep ended this year too, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus has never failed to be nominated in the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy category for her work on that show. She's also never failed to win that category for Veep, although the show itself was out of the running for the 2018 Emmys. People may be interested to see if she takes the trophy one last time or this will be the year that sees her unseated. Does 2018 really count as a win over Veep, if the show and Louis-Dreyfus weren't even in the running?
To the dismay of the CBS boss, The Big Bang Theory didn't get much recognition from the Emmys despite its final season airing in the 2018-2019 TV season, but it should be among those concluded shows to be honored in a special presentation. There are a lot of reasons for a lot of people to tune in, even if they were among those who bailed on the Emmys ahead of the 2018 broadcast. The question is: will they tune in?
If you want to be among those watching the host-less 71st Emmy Awards, be sure to tune in to Fox on Sunday, September 22 at 8 p.m. ET. If streaming is more your style, be sure to swing by our rundown of how to watch the Emmys 2019 streaming.