Emmy Awards faces conundrum as best watched by less

Thu Sep 17, 2009 9:22am EDT
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By Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The U.S. television industry on Sunday hands out its highest honors, the prime time Emmy Awards, facing a growing conundrum.

How do you get millions of viewers to watch the party celebrating the best of TV, when the best is seen only by a minority?

The satirical comedy "30 Rock" starring Tina Fey and cable television's highly praised 1960s period drama "Mad Men" lead the field for Emmy glory in a three-hour ceremony in Los Angeles that will be shown live on the CBS network.

Despite an expanded list of nominees in the main categories this year to include fresh faces like the irreverent Fox cartoon series "Family Guy," few of the expected winners on Sunday have mass appeal.

Last year's best drama winner and this year's front-runner "Mad Men" has an audience of about 2 million on cable channel AMC, while "30 Rock" draws about 6 million for NBC. By contrast, reality-show nominee "American Idol" averaged 26 million viewers last season.

The winners are chosen by voting among some 10,000 members of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.


"The Emmys are trying to serve two masters right now. It is a tough balancing act," said Scott Robson, editor in chief of AOL Television.   Continued...

<p>Talk show host Tyra Banks and her creative team accept the emmy for outstanding talk show-informative at the 36th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards, August 30, 2009. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok</p>