One of television’s oldest and most prestigious awards shows won’t be on television this year.
No broadcast contract could be secured for the 43rd annual Daytime Emmy Awards ceremony, which will be held in downtown Los Angeles on May 1.
High production costs and low licensing fees have forced the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences to record the event and post it on its website the following day.
“Where we fell short was advertisers and production money,” said David Michaels, senior vice president for the Daytime Emmys. “We have every intention of having this back on the air next year. The interest is there.”
But steadily declining interest in daytime television has been a factor in the live broadcast blackout of the awards show.
The ceremony had for years aired on one of the basic broadcast networks, and in its 1990s heyday averaged more than 20 million viewers, according to Nielsen. But as interest in the ceremony fell away, the licensing fees dramatically reduced and eventually the broadcasters lost interest, and the broadcast run ended in 2011.
The show moved to basic cable the following year, only to see its ratings drop to 913,000 viewers for HLN’s telecasts in 2012 and 2013. A move to an internet-only airing in 2014 was poorly received and widely derided on social media.
The awards show was back on TV last year, screened live from the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank on Pop TV. It drew a viewing audience of 900,000 to the fledgling cable channel, according to Nielsen.
But financial challenges ruled out a return to the screen for next Sunday’s ceremony, which will be held at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel.
Just as the ceremony will not be watched live, delayed viewing is increasingly becoming the norm for the soap operas that dominate the event’s nominations.
“The main viewers of the Daytime Emmys are soap fans,” said Neil Landau, associate director of screenwriting for television at UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television. “And even they can now binge watch their favorite shows at the end of the week online.”
Daytime television’s decline is hitting especially close to home. All four of the remaining network soap operas are produced in Los Angeles, and the nominees for this year’s accolades were announced live on “The Talk” on CBS – which is broadcast from Studio City.
The soaps are facing a challenge from all the real-life drama available to viewers, such as “Making a Murderer” on Netflix, “The Jinx” on HBO, or even breakout podcast hit “Serial.”
To stay relevant, said Landau, the academy needs to engage with digital content as linear television viewing – watching shows live in their original time slot – dwindles.
“Viewing habits for linear television is segmented by age,” he said. “Whether it’s prime time or daytime, you won’t find anyone under the age of 30 or 40 watching many shows live.”
Amazon, Netflix, and Santa Monica-based Hulu shows and talent all received nominations, marking a convergence of legacy media and the digital frontier. They qualify based on genre since their programs don’t exist in the linear TV time format.
Television academy executives said they have been thinking creatively about how their audience wants to consume awards show content, and have been making strides with new technology as well as new awards to increase participation and audience reach.
New this year, fans will get to connect with stars at the event using live video streaming app Periscope, and new categories such as Outstanding Musical Performance could attract a different kind of audience. Nominees include music superstars such as Adele and Annie Lennox.
“When you start bringing that caliber of talent to the show, you’re hoping for a ground shift,” said the Daytime Emmys’ Michaels. Neither of those singers is expected to attend the ceremony, but leading lights of the soap world and daytime talk shows will be in attendance.
Engaging audience interest will be needed to attract advertisers and broadcast partners back to the struggling ceremony.
Some put the blame for declining ratings for both the ceremony and daytime soaps on, of all people, O.J. Simpson.
Daytime programming was preempted for nine months in 1995 to accommodate live coverage of the Simpson trial and soap opera ratings never recovered when they returned to the screen. The decline continued in subsequent years, eventually leading to the cancellation in 2012 of several iconic daytime dramas. Ever since Simpson, TV viewers have found more interest in reality than fictional soaps.
“That’s when audiences started to tune out, and it’s the same now with the election,” said Landau. “The buzzword in television right now is ‘authenticity,’ because reality is stranger than fiction.”
For reprint and licensing requests for this article, CLICK HERE.