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Emmy Viewership Down Sharply

Cable's -- make that Home Box Office's -- coronation at the 56th Primetime Emmy Awards Sunday night on ABC was the most-watched event in prime time among the key 18-49 demographic, but the star-studded event drew a much smaller TV crowd than in recent years.

The award show attracted a 4.7 rating in 18-49s and 14.0 million viewers, according to preliminary Nielsen data, down from a 7.0 rating in 18-49s and 17.7 million viewers last year, when Fox aired the Emmys, and off considerably from an average 19.8 million viewers for the 2002 telecast on NBC. 

This year’s three-hour telecast--it ran over by only a minute or two--did capture the largest audience in five of six half-hour blocks Sunday night. The sixth was a repeat of CBS’ Cold Case at 8-8:30, which drew 15.2 million viewers compared to 12.6 million watching the Emmys on ABC.

The CBS drama went cold itself in the second part of the hour, though, and the Emmys continued to build. The awards peaked at 9:30-10 with 14.9 million viewers.

ABC’s pre-Emmy red carpet show drew 6 million oglers and a 1.7 rating in adults 18 to 49 years old. E! Entertainment Television’s red carpet special--hosted by The View’s Star Jones this year after Joan Rivers and daughter Melissa defected to TV Guide Channel--posted a 1.9 rating, even with the 2003 show. E!’s six-hour countdown special averaged a 0.5 rating, up slightly from the year before. 

With the Emmys on ABC, the other networks largely counterprogrammed with theatricals or repeats.

NBC and Fox opted for movies, with Titanic on NBC and Speed on Fox, while CBS aired repeats of Cold Case, CSI: Miami and Without a Trace (all three pulled in impressive numbers, averaging more than 10 million viewers).

,The WB played more aggressively with fresh fare, but its shows suffered. Jack & Bobby recorded 3 million viewers and a 1.5 rating in the WB’s 12-34 year old target demo, down from 4.6 million viewers and a 2.3 in 12-34s for its Sept. 12 debut.

Charmed fared better, with 4.6 million viewers and a 2.3 in 12-34s, down from 5.2 million viewers and a 2.8 in the demo.