UPDATE 1-Emmys TV audience drops to 15.6 million with Monday switch

Tue Aug 26, 2014 4:00pm EDT

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By Piya Sinha-Roy

LOS ANGELES Aug 26 (Reuters) - After moving up a month and switching to a weekday evening, Monday's Primetime Emmy awards drew 15.6 million viewers, a drop from last year's Sunday night show despite a new host, a passionate kiss and a touching tribute.

This year's Emmy awards, which saw AMC's drug drama "Breaking Bad" and ABC's hit "Modern Family" take home the top awards in drama and comedy, drew the second-highest viewership in the past eight years, NBC said on Tuesday, citing Nielsen ratings figures.

The show, which was also moved a month earlier to August, drew 5.3 million viewers in the 18-to-49 demographic coveted by advertisers.

On social media, Emmys were a top trending topic on Twitter throughout the telecast, while 6.2 million people discussed the show on Facebook.

Key moments from the night included "Veep" winner Julia Louis-Dreyfus locking lips with Bryan Cranston for a passionate kiss as a throwback to their "Seinfeld" days as she went up to collect her best comedy actress award, and an audience question-and-answer session with Melissa McCarthy asking whether her illegally parked car would get towed.

The show also featured Billy Crystal's touching and funny tribute to the late Robin Williams.

Comcast Corp's NBC said the Emmys telecast beat rival broadcast networks in the 8 p.m.-to-11 p.m. time period, with CBS Corp's CBS, Twenty-First Century Fox Inc's FOX and Walt Disney Co's ABC drawing a combined total of 13.8 million viewers on Monday.

Last year's show, which took place on a Sunday in September and was hosted by Neil Patrick Harris on CBS, drew 17.6 million viewers.

Critics this year picked on the complicated awards show categories, which saw some confusing entries such as HBO's "True Detective" in best drama rather than miniseries, and Netflix's "Orange Is the New Black" drama about a women's prison submitted in the best comedy category.

The controversy served first-time Emmy host Seth Meyers well in his opening monologue as he joked about trying to submitting his "Late Night" show as a miniseries, but critics were left torn by the night's events.

Alessandra Stanley at the New York Times said Meyers "was charming, but he didn't take many risks, and overall, the ceremony was a brisk, rather tame event."

Tim Goodman at the Hollywood Reporter said the "head-scratching awards show" delivered winners "all over the map," but praised Meyers for being "affable and steady and kept the banter light and upbeat." (Reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Eric Kelsey and Jonathan Oatis)

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