Politics not only reason for drop in Emmy Awards show viewership

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Politics not only reason for drop in Emmy Awards show viewership

Watch­ing awards shows on tele­vi­sion is as big a treat as hav­ing a colonoscopy with­out anes­the­sia. Well, actu­ally, it’s worse. I’ve never had a colonoscopy that lasted three hours.

It doesn’t mat­ter if the host is affa­ble and funny — Billy Crys­tal and Johnny Car­son come to mind — or amaz­ingly irri­tat­ing like David Let­ter­man. The shows are over­stuffed extrav­a­gan­zas that drain your body and rot your brain.

With an atti­tude like that, I couldn’t wait to skip Sunday’s Emmy Awards broad­cast. I couldn’t stand watch­ing three min­utes of Stephen Colbert’s past and present TV shows. Why in God’s name would I want to spend three hours with him and the croak­ing cho­rus of Trump haters shar­ing the stage?

Appar­ently you and many oth­ers felt the same, send­ing the Emmy rat­ings to new depths. It’s good to know so many good folks have the good sense to avoid polit­i­cal poi­son mas­querad­ing as enter­tain­ment (and so few con­ser­v­a­tives are masochists).

Mean­while, the enter­tain­ment estab­lish­ment, pink to its left-​wing core, is study­ing birds’ flight pat­terns and read­ing beasts’ entrails to dis­cern why view­ers of its awards pro­grams are van­ish­ing. You don’t have to be a seer to fig­ure out that your num­bers will be weak if you don’t mind dri­ving away half your audi­ence. But the movers, shak­ers and moguls of Hol­ly­wood don’t know any­body who doesn’t think about pol­i­tics as they do, so they’re sim­ply stumped.

Just as fan dis­gust with Colin Kaeper­nick isn’t the only rea­son why rat­ings have plum­meted for NFL broad­casts, par­ti­san­ship isn’t the only cause for the decline in inter­est for the Emmys and Oscars.

Thirty years ago, cable TV was a rel­a­tively small oper­a­tion, so most Amer­i­cans were still stuck with the three major net­works: ABC, CBS and NBC. Even poorly rated shows had a dozen mil­lion view­ers. The series finale for CBSMASH was seen by nearly 106 mil­lion peo­ple in 1983; that audi­ence record stood until 106.5 mil­lion view­ers watched New Orleans beat Indi­anapo­lis in the 2010 Superbowl.

Cable has grown like a mon­ster since 1983 and cre­ated a big­ger stir in recent years by offer­ing orig­i­nal pro­gram­ming. Many new shows are low-​budget real­ity pro­grams, but some basic cable chan­nels — FX, USA, AMC and SyFy — offer top-​notch stuff that was once the purview of HBO and Showtime.

Of course, Net­flix was a huge game changer when it threw big money into new pro­gram­ming and brought instant rel­e­vance to stream­ing video.

And therein lies a big prob­lem for the Emmys — they’re elit­ist. Only a hand­ful of this year’s nom­i­nees rep­re­sented broad­cast TV, and even fewer of them took home awards. The big win­ner, as usual lately, was HBO.

Just as peo­ple in show­biz don’t know any­one who sup­ported Don­ald Trump, they don’t know any­body who doesn’t have cable TV. More impor­tantly, they don’t know any­body who doesn’t have HBO or Net­flix, where they pre­sume the best stuff appears. As of the end of 2016, HBO only had about 49 mil­lion sub­scribers, and Lord knows how many of those are hotels, motels and other businesses.

As a result, a good por­tion of the Amer­i­can pub­lic has no skin in the Emmy game since the awards revolve around pro­grams they don’t even have the abil­ity to watch. I guess the enter­tain­ment big­wigs have writ­ten them off as deplorables.

Then, too, there’s more than one aspect of elit­ism in terms of the type of shows the nom­i­na­tors enjoy. I watch more than my share of TV, and I’m the kind of guy who won’t abide stu­pid­ity on my flat screen. Yet only a cou­ple of my favorites — Bet­ter Call Saul, The Amer­i­cans, Stranger Things — even had an Emmy nom­i­na­tion. Instead, the vot­ers exhumed the long-​dead corpse of Sat­ur­day Night Live and show­ered it with glory.

The same thing goes for the Oscars. But that’s another story.

Watching awards shows on television is as big a treat as having a colonoscopy without anesthesia. Well, actually, it’s worse. I’ve never had a colonoscopy that lasted three hours.

It doesn’t matter if the host is affable and funny — Billy Crystal and Johnny Carson come to mind — or amazingly irritating like David Letterman. The shows are overstuffed extravaganzas that drain your body and rot your brain.

With an attitude like that, I couldn’t wait to skip Sunday’s Emmy Awards broadcast. I couldn’t stand watching three minutes of Stephen Colbert’s past and present TV shows. Why in God’s name would I want to spend three hours with him and the croaking chorus  of Trump haters sharing the stage?

Apparently you and many others felt the same, sending the Emmy ratings to new depths. It’s good to know so many good folks have the good sense to avoid political poison masquerading as entertainment (and so few conservatives are masochists).

Meanwhile, the entertainment establishment, pink to its left-wing core, is studying birds’ flight patterns and reading beasts’ entrails to discern why viewers of its awards programs are vanishing. You don’t have to be a seer to figure out that your numbers will be weak if you don’t mind driving away half your audience. But the movers, shakers and moguls of Hollywood don’t know anybody who doesn’t think about politics as they do, so they’re simply stumped.

Just as fan disgust with Colin Kaepernick isn’t the only reason why ratings have plummeted for NFL broadcasts, partisanship isn’t the only cause for the decline in interest for the Emmys and Oscars.

Thirty years ago, cable TV was a relatively small operation, so most Americans were still stuck with the three major networks: ABC, CBS and NBC. Even poorly rated shows had a dozen million viewers. The series finale for CBS’ MASH was seen by nearly 106 million people in 1983; that audience record stood until 106.5 million viewers watched New Orleans beat Indianapolis in the 2010 Superbowl.

Cable has grown like a monster since 1983 and created a bigger stir in recent years by offering original programming. Many new shows are low-budget reality programs, but some basic cable channels — FX, USA, AMC and SyFy — offer top-notch stuff that was once the purview of HBO and Showtime.

Of course, Netflix was a huge game changer when it threw big money into new programming and brought instant relevance to streaming video.

And therein lies a big problem for the Emmys — they’re elitist. Only a handful of this year’s nominees represented broadcast TV, and even fewer of them took home awards. The big winner, as usual lately, was HBO.

Just as people in showbiz don’t know anyone who supported Donald Trump, they don’t know anybody who doesn’t have cable TV. More importantly, they don’t know anybody who doesn’t have HBO or Netflix, where they presume the best stuff appears. As of the end of 2016, HBO only had about 49 million subscribers, and Lord knows how many of those are hotels, motels and other businesses.

As a result, a good portion of the American public has no skin in the Emmy game since the awards revolve around programs they don’t even have the ability to watch. I guess the entertainment bigwigs have written them off as deplorables.

Then, too, there’s more than one aspect of elitism in terms of the type of shows the nominators enjoy. I watch more than my share of TV, and I’m the kind of guy who won’t abide stupidity on my flat screen. Yet only a couple of my favorites — Better Call Saul, The Americans, Stranger Things — even had an Emmy nomination. Instead, the voters exhumed the long-dead corpse of Saturday Night Live and showered it with glory.

The same thing goes for the Oscars. But that’s another story.