The 74th annual Emmy awards are set to happen on Monday September 13th. Ahead of the big night we are looking at which nominated series have done the best job of capturing audience attention, how well the Academy is representing popular demand, and which shows have momentum going into awards night.
This year broke the years-long streak of major awards nominees becoming more broadly popular. Last year looks like a high water mark for the Academy recognizing shows with greater popular appeal. In 2021, the average show which received five or more major award nominations had 18.7 times the average series demand during the nomination period. This year that number noticeably dropped back to 15.2x, on par with the nominees of 2018 and 2019. Will the ultimate winners on Monday better reflect popular opinion? More importantly, is this a mere blip in the trend or is the Academy backsliding into its echo chamber?
In general, the shows nominated for Outstanding Drama had the highest demand during the eligibility period. Leading the pack was Stranger Things which had 43.27 times the average series demand, well ahead of its competitors. However the nominated show with the highest demand across all categories was actually Saturday Night Live which had 53.5 times the average series demand and was nominated for Outstanding Variety Sketch Series. After Stranger Things, it is a much tighter race between Outstanding Drama nominees. Four series had above 20x demand during the eligibility period - Better Call Saul, Euphoria, Succession, and Yellowjackets.
From a momentum perspective, demand for Stranger Things peaked around the time nominations were announced after it released the second half of its fourth season on July 1st. That drove demand for the show to stratospheric highs of over 200x but it has been dropping since that point. If recency is a factor in the minds of voters, Better Call Saul may have had a better approach. Its series finale was in mid August, less than a month before the awards ceremony. The show saw its all time peak demand that week - 88.95x on August 17th. While Stranger Things still has a higher demand, Better Call Saul has maintained a level of demand significantly ahead of the other nominees since nominations were announced.
Among Outstanding Comedy nominees, there is a narrower spread in demand. Ted Lasso had the greatest demand of the nominees (30.2x). Since becoming a breakout hit on Apple TV+, the show has continued to hold onto audience attention and regularly features among the most in-demand shows not just in the US but in countries around the world. Hacks notably lags the demand of other nominees, with only 7x the average series demand. This didn’t stop it from being one of the most awarded shows at last year’s ceremony. Hacks looks like the type of made-for-Hollywood content about showbiz that industry insiders love but struggles to resonate with broader audiences.
When we look at demand since nominations were announced, two shows pull ahead of Ted Lasso. Only Murders in the Building saw the highest peak in its demand in recent weeks following its finale on August 23rd. What We Do in the Shadows had the highest demand in the most recent week as it just wrapped up its latest season on September 6th.
It is a less crowded field in the Outstanding Limited/Anthology Series category with only 5 shows competing for this prize. Looking at their eligibility period performance, there is a clear gap between shows with outstanding demand and shows whose demand is merely good. Pam & Tommy had the highest demand of these nominees (16.96x), but Dopesick (12.62x) and The White Lotus (10.85x) were in the same ballpark. However, both Inventing Anna and The Dropout had less than half the demand of The White Lotus. These two series clearly failed to resonate with audiences to the same degree during the award eligibility period.
When we examine more recent trends there has been a noticeable shakeup. Dopesick has had the highest demand of the nominees for weeks. This is despite not releasing any episodes since November 2021. The Dropout has gone from significantly lower demand than its fellow nominees to having nearly the highest demand a week before the awards. If the other shows have held up better over time, it is looking like the buzz around Pam & Tommy was a flash in the pan, as its demand is now on par with Inventing Anna.
While the industry recognition that comes from awards has never really been the same as popular demand, the trend for multiple years has been for the Emmys to recognize shows with higher audience demand. That trend was sharply snapped this year as the shows getting nominations attracted noticeably less popular demand than in previous years. On Monday night we will find out how much of a factor popular demand is on who ultimately wins and whether the Academy is again drifting apart from popular opinion.