Sunday TV Ratings: 2021 Emmys Up From 2020 Show

Cedric The Entertainer Hosting the Emmys
Cliff Lipson/CBS

The Emmys headed to CBS for a night that was pretty much back to normal after the 2020 show’s mostly virtual setting on ABC. But did people tune in to see which shows took home awards (and Ted Lasso, The Crown, and Mare of Easttown win big)?

Based on Nielsen time-zone adjusted fast nationals (which do not include the numbers from Paramount+, on which it was streaming live), the 2021 Emmys were watched by 7.4 million viewers. That’s up 16% from the 2020 Emmys (6.37 million viewers) and it’s also the largest audience for the Emmys since the 2018 show, when 10.2 million tuned in. (It is down from the last time CBS aired the Emmys, in 2017, when 11.38 million watched.)

So what else drew people to their TVs Sunday night? NBC had its Sunday Night Football game (Kansas City Chiefs versus Baltimore Ravens), which drew more than twice the audience of the Emmys (16.1 million viewers). Meanwhile, Fox aired the season finale of Fantasy Island. ABC had new episodes of its game shows Celebrity Family Feud, The Chase, and To Tell the Truth. There were also new episodes of The Walking Dead (on AMC) and Billions (on Showtime). And we might want to consider the fact that people can watch it whenever they want on Paramount+ as well.

The 2021 Emmys ran just over three hours and kicked off with a musical number then ended the night with the awards for Outstanding Comedy Series, Drama Series, and Limited Series.