Emmys Thrown for Loss as NFL Runs Away with Sunday Ratings

Producers and cast members of "Mad Men" accept their Best Drama Emmy Sunday night (Photo: Getty Images)

How much does America love football more than the Emmy Awards? Answer: Twice as much.

That’s according to the Sunday night ratings race as the Emmy Awards on Fox went head-to-head against NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” – the Philadelphia Eagles vs. the Atlanta Falcons. It might have been Emmy night on TV, but according to the numbers, it was football night in America for an average of 20.753 million football viewers from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. (7-10c) – the three-hour period when the game faced off against TV’s annual awards show.

The three-hour average for the Emmys: 10.827 million, according to Nielsen overnights. If that number holds steady when the national numbers come in for Sunday night (and there’s no reason why it shouldn’t), the 63rd Annual Emmy Awards hosted by Jane Lynch will be the least-watched Emmy telecast ever – a distinction formerly held by the 60th annual awards in 2008 and co-hosted by reality stars Howie Mandel, Heidi Klum, Jeff Probst, Tom Bergeron and Ryan Seacrest. That 2008 show had 12.2 million viewers.

Interesting thing about the audience for Sunday night’s Emmys: Viewership fell sharply in the telecast’s third hour – by more than 2 million viewers – an hour reserved for some of the night’s biggest awards. The 9-10 p.m. (8-9c) average was 11.407 million, while the 10-11 (9-10c) tally was 9.232 million.

Either this group of nearly 2.2 million people suddenly became so sleepy that they felt it was time to turn in for the night, rather than stick around to see which shows won best drama (“Mad Men”) and best comedy (“Modern Family”) or some other phenomenon was at play. It wasn’t the football game – according to the numbers, the game lost viewers in that hour too.

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