Ahead of the 74th annual Emmys on Monday, we looked at which nominated series have done the best job of capturing audience attention, how well voters in the Television Academy are representing popular demand and which shows have momentum going into awards night.
For a couple years, major awards nominees have trended closer to matching with popular opinion. But this year, the Emmys has broken that trend, according to Parrot Analytics‘ data, which takes into account consumer research, streaming, downloads and social media, among other engagement.
2021 looks like a high-water mark for the Television Academy recognizing shows with greater popular appeal. Last year, 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 to 15.2 times, 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 Netflix’s “Stranger Things,” which had 43.27 times the average series demand — well ahead of its competitors. After “Stranger Things,” it’s a much tighter race between Outstanding Drama nominees. Four series had above 20 times the average 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 1. That drove demand for the show to stratospheric highs of over 200 times the average show demand, but it has been dropping since that point.
If recency is a factor in the minds of voters, AMC’s “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 — 88.95 times the average show demand on Aug. 17. 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’s a narrower spread in demand. Apple TV+’s “Ted Lasso” had the greatest demand of the nominees (30.2 times the average series demand). 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 United States but in countries around the world.
HBO Max’s “Hacks” notably lags the demand of other nominees, with only seven times 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.” Hulu’s “Only Murders in the Building” saw the highest peak in its demand in recent weeks following its finale on Aug. 23. FX’s “What We Do in the Shadows” had the highest demand in the most recent week as it just wrapped up its latest season on Sept. 6.
It is a less crowded field in the Outstanding Limited/Anthology Series category with only five shows competing for this prize. Looking at their eligibility period performance, there’s a clear gap between shows with outstanding demand and shows whose demand is merely good. Hulu’s “Pam & Tommy” had the highest demand of these nominees (16.96 times), but “Dopesick” (12.62 times), also from Hulu, and HBO’s “The White Lotus” (10.85 times) were in the same ballpark. However, both Netflix’s “Inventing Anna” and Hulu’s “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. And it’s 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 once if popular demand is in sync with the shows that ultimately win and whether the Academy is again drifting apart from popular opinion.
For more from WrapPRO content partner Parrot Analytics, visit the Data and Analysis Hub.