Voting totals soared, while viewing numbers tumbled.
The day after the 67th Primetime Emmy Awards, the Television Academy's leadership was processing how one of the most memorable ceremonies in the show's history resulted in one of the show's smallest audiences on record.
Thanks at least in part to rule changes that gave academy members the freedom to vote in more categories than ever before, this year's Emmys produced a different and diverse set of winners, with the series trophies going to "Game of Thrones" and "Veep," shows that had never taken these top prizes before. We also saw Viola Davis become the first black woman to win lead actress in a drama, Jon Hamm finally receive his due for "Mad Men," and a number of women (Amy Schumer, "Transparent's" Jill Soloway) recognized for their stellar work in front of and behind the camera.
FULL COVERAGE: Emmys 2015
"We had a significant, meaningful increase in the number of people voting in the final round," said Television Academy Chairman Bruce Rosenblum, "and there's a definite feeling that membership really responded to and recognized new, fresh and diverse voices last night."
Before this year, final-round voting was limited to members who volunteered for blue-ribbon panels. The academy wanted more — and younger — voters involved, so it mothballed the committees and gave every eligible voter the opportunity to participate. And participate they did, though Rosenblum said it was too soon to tell exactly how much the amended rules changed the makeup of this year's slate of winners.
"There were a lot of first-time winners," he noted. "It will be interesting to see if that continues next year."
Also of interest next year: Might the Emmys permanently cede September to the NFL?
The Emmy telecast rotates annually among the four broadcast networks. When NBC's turn comes, as it did last year (and in 2006 and 2010), the event has shifted to August because of the network's commitment to "Sunday Night Football." This year's show, televised on Fox and going head-to-head with a highly anticipated football game between the Green Bay Packers and the Seattle Seahawks, drew 11.9 million viewers, down 16% in the prized demographic of 18- to 49-year-olds.
The overall 24% audience dip from last year, amounting to a loss of 3.7 million viewers, could also be chalked up to Fox's lack of promotional platforms. The network does not have a late-night or morning show to plug the Emmys, resulting in lower ratings than when other networks televise the ceremony. The 12.4 million viewers Fox drew for the 2011 Emmys wasn't a particularly strong year either.
The Emmys will be broadcast on ABC next year. No date has been announced.
Of course, as television continues to splinter among multiple broadcast and streaming platforms, there could be another factor at work: Most of America simply hasn't seen the shows the Emmys are celebrating.
"All I could think of last night was: 'If people don't subscribe to HBO, they have no idea what's going on,'" says an Emmy-winning producer, talking about the premium channel's dominating performance on the strength of shows like "Game of Thrones," "Veep" and the limited series "Olive Kitteridge."
"You have to wonder at what point the television landscape will become so fragmented that a decent rating [for the Emmys telecast] is no longer possible," added the producer, speaking anonymously in deference to his working relationships.
In much the same way, the Oscars saw its ratings drop this year to its lowest viewership since 2009, a tumble many attributed to a set of nominees dominated by indie movies — "Birdman," "Boyhood," "Whiplash," "Still Alice" — that few people had seen.
Rosenblum, pointing to Emmys wins for broadcast network shows such as "How to Get Away With Murder" and "Mom," said he believed that voters honored a wide array of programming and that they would continue to do so in the near future. He added, though, that the academy would be open to making further changes.
"I wouldn't be surprised to see the show and the rules continue to be tweaked in the next couple of years," Rosenblum said. "Television continues to change, and we have to keep up with it."