Perhaps the biggest night on the television calendar, the 2014 Primetime Emmy Awards telecast airs this evening (Monday, August 25th) at 8pm ET on NBC.
Today's report will look at the new "Outstanding Unstructured Reality Program" category as well as the P 18-34 viewer's role in it. Before this year, nominees in this category would be considered for "Outstanding Reality Program," but that category was separated into two this year – "Outstanding Structured Reality Program" and "Outstanding Unstructured Reality Program." One can loosely define the "Structured" category as shows with something a routine (a la Shark Tank / Mythbusters) whereas the nominees in the "Unstructured" category are programs that sort of just follow wacky people around and see what happens.
Five of the six nominees in the "Unstructured" category are all reality-Emmy first-timers, with the exception of Discovery's Deadliest Catch. They are: Bravo's Million Dollar Listing New York, Bravo's Flipping Out, Discovery's Alaska: The Last Frontier, Discovery's Deadliest Catch, BBC America's Wild Things With Dominic Monaghan and A&E's Wahlburgers. The new category seems tailor-made for A&E's Duck Dynasty, but its lead-out Wahlburgers got the nod, proof of how far the DD has fallen in recent seasons. Other omissions include E!'s Keeping Up With The Kardashians and Bravo's Real Housewives franchises.
Let's compare the respective series ratings from June 1 2013 - May 31st 2014 (period of eligibility), and find out if there's any correlation between ratings performance and an Emmy nod by looking at the results from the "Outstanding Reality Program" category in previous years.
Comparing "Unstructured Reality Program" Category Nominees (2013-2014) Live + 7
If the Emmy was based solely on ratings and impressions, the two front runners would be Wahlburgers and Deadliest Catch. Wahlburgers was a ratings revelation for A&E in its first season, establishing a solid audience. It's tough to argue that having Duck Dynasty as a lead-in played a role in superb ratings, but the program built its own identity by having a strong female skewed audience, something that wasn't traditionally the case with DD. The program defeats its fellow nominees when it comes to the advertiser-friendly P 18-49 and P 18-34 demos, while Deadliest Catch garners a slightly older demo, as well as the most total viewers out of all category nominees. One can argue that no network is doing reality quite like Discovery is right now, and Deadliest Catch set the standard for the network. It's also important to note that Deadliest Catch won the Emmy for "Outstanding Reality Program" in 2011, the last time a cable nominee won a reality program Emmy.
While the "Outstanding Reality Program" category no longer exists, we can try to find out if CBS' Undercover Boss, the series that won the category in 2012 and 2013, was a ratings champion too. Undercover Boss has been moved over to the new "Outstanding Structured Reality Program" category, meaning there will be an opening for a different series to grab an Emmy. Additionally, there are no broadcast TV nominees in this category.
"Outstanding Reality Program" Nominees 2012 & 2013 By The Numbers (Live + 7)
Did Undercover Boss won the category in 2012 & 2013, but did it win the ratings race both years?
Undercover Boss was the top-rated nominee among P 18-49, P 25-54 and total viewers, scoring almost 10 million total per episode. Shark Tank was the top-rated nominee among the younger P 18-34 demo. Discovery's Mythbusters was the category's lone cable nominee, and finished last in ratings among P 18-49, 25-54 and total viewers. It was also the youngest-skewing program.
Half of the category's nominees were from cable and the other half were from broadcast:
The story is a bit different here. Shark Tank dominated the field in terms of the key demos. It beat Undercover Boss and the other nominees in terms of P 18-49, P 18-34 and P 25-54 viewers. Yet it still lost. Undercover Boss was second among P 18-49, barely edging Deadliest Catch in the key demo, and 3rd among P 18-34, finishing behind Shark Tank and Deadliest Catch. Did Undercover Boss win any of the demos? Yes, the one its home network CBS specializes in...total viewers P2+.
Emmy winner Undercover Boss was the second oldest-skewing program out of the nominees.
Top Reality Programs Among The P 18-34 Set in 2014 (Live + 7)
It appears that programs that perform well among the older demos and total viewers P2+ have a better shot at winning the "reality" Emmy than programs which see better numbers among younger demos. VH1's Love & Hip Hop Atlanta was one program thatwas dominant on its night among P 18-34, yet it wasn't even nominated. In fact, only two of the six programs nominated in the "unstructured" category are in the top 50 highest-rated among the demo.
The new cable-exclusive "Outstanding Unstructured Reality" category may buck the trend, but if we take into account recent history, Deadliest Catch has the best chance at winning the Emmy tonight.
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