Emmys Ratings Climb With Host Cedric the Entertainer

Cedric the Entertainer hosts the 2021 Emmys, which saw a ratings improvement. (Credit: Shutterstock)

This year’s Emmys scored a surprising ratings increase after a record low in 2020.

The 73rd Emmy Awards, which aired Sunday on CBS, saw its viewership rise to 7.4 million, preliminary Nielsen numbers show.

That marked a 16 percent jump from last year’s all-time low of 6.3 million viewers, according to The Hollywood Reporter. This year’s numbers are the highest the Emmys have pulled in since 10.2 million viewers watched in 2018.

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The Emmys managed to avoid the same pandemic pains that hit other award shows this year, with ratings for the Grammys, Golden Globes, and the Oscars numbers all plummeting.

Even more impressive, TV’s biggest night managed to avoid getting completely sacked despite airing against an NFL showdown between the Baltimore Ravens and the Kansas City Chiefs.

The awards likely got a boost from Cedric the Entertainer hosting, along with anticipation over whether the late Michael K. Williams would win (he did not) or be honored by the Television Academy (he was). Williams, who was nominated for his role on Lovecraft Country died on Sept. 6.

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Sunday’s broadcast looked different from last year’s virtual production due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year’s ceremony, held outside in a tent at L.A. Live in downtown Los Angeles, marked a return to a live audience — although the number of attendees was reduced from years past and they were all required to show proof of vaccination and a recent negative test.

The show made headlines right out the gate when Cedric joined forces with LL Cool J, Rita Wilson, and Lil Dicky to perform late rapper Biz Markie’s hit single “Just a Friend.” The four belted out the song with the show’s in-house audience joining in on the fun.

The Crown and The Queen’s Gambit were the big winners with 11 awards each. They were followed by Saturday Night Live with eight awards, and Ted Lasso and The Mandalorian with each picking up seven statuettes. A full list of winners can be found on the Emmys website.

Other winners included British star Michaela Cole for writing the HBO sexual assault drama series I May Destroy You, as well as RuPaul who picked up a win in the outstanding competition program for RuPaul’s Drag Race and became the first Black artist to take home a career total of 11 Emmys. Debbie Allen received the Governors Award for contributions to the television industry and for her philanthropy.

Still, the TV Academy faced controversy after no actors of color won on Sunday night, prompting the hashtag #EmmysSoWhite to trend on Twitter.