Historically, there was always a sort-of gentleman's agreement that the major networks wouldn't vigorously counter-program against the Emmys, since it was supposed to be TV's big night, and the majors shared the telecast. In fact, they only broke that rule when they were really ticked off, like when a then-upstart Fox snagged rights to the awards.
"Sunday Night Football" -- which lures away a lot of men whenever the awards aren't on NBC, but not necessarily a ton of Emmy viewers, since the show skews female -- this Sunday's awards will also have the pull of the "Dexter" series finale, penultimate "Breaking Bad" and the new season of "Boardwalk Empire" with which to contend.
If that represents a tug at select viewers with a taste for quality television (a relatively small subset, admittedly), at least they have the option of skipping the Emmys -- or selected portions of it -- and watching those shows live, or close to it.
Emmy attendees, by contrast, will not only sit through the awards and presumably hit a party or two afterwards, but will then want to rush home and catch those key episodes -- even if it means Emmy night runs way into Monday morning -- before some A-hole spoils them on Twitter. (In this context, please, tweet responsibly.)
It's pretty well established "Breaking Bad" might be the most popular show on TV right now in industry circles, in much the way "The Wire" cast a much longer shadow within the creative community than it did ratings-wise (and a lot more people overall are watching the AMC show). Moreover, click-happy journalists will feel compelled to have their reviews/analysis/doctoral theses/compare-and-contrast essays posted so people can be up and read them at the crack of dawn, if not that evening.
Granted, it's one of those cry-me-a-river problems in the bigger scheme of things, but it should nevertheless result in some extremely bleary eyes around offices the morning of Sept. 23. In fact, remember back when Variety's Army Archerd used to kick off his day-after column with "Good morning, and congratulations Emmy winners?"
This year, it'll be more like "Good afternoon, and congratulations on finally dragging your asses out of bed, Emmy fans. And as for poor Walt, who saw that coming?"
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