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JAN
28
9 MOS

What's Behind Emmys' Move From Sunday in September to Monday in August? (Analysis)

Ratings, parties and traffic complications are among the many factors likely weighed by NBC and the TV Academy as they moved TV's highest honors to a Monday for the first time in 38 years.

Neil Patrick Harris Hosting Emmy Awards 2013 - H 2014
Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP
Host Neil Patrick Harris at the 2013 Emmys

Despite scoring their highest ratings in eight years in 2013, the Emmys are moving from a Sunday in September to a Monday in August in 2014 -- Aug. 25, to be precise, prior to the start of the fall TV season. All of which begs the question: Why is the change taking place and how will it impact talent and viewers?

Last August, The Hollywood Reporter broke the news that TV's highest honors -- which the big four broadcast networks take turns airing -- would be moving from September to August in 2014 so that NBC, this year's host, could avoid a conflict with its program Sunday Night Football, the highest-rated, most-watched show on TV during the 2012-2013 season, according to Nielsen. (The 2014-2015 NFL season is tentatively scheduled to begin on Sept. 4.) The Peacock Network had made the same move both of the other two times it had hosted the Emmys since acquiring SNF in 2006.

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But what nobody knew until today was that the Emmys not only would be moved up a month, but also would be moved back a day, from Sunday to Monday. (The Emmys have been held on Sundays since 1976, the most recent year they were held on a Monday.) TV Academy insiders tell us that avoiding conflicts with football -- even preseason games, which take place throughout the month of August and attract large audiences -- was a big motivation for the move to Monday, as was avoiding a conflict with MTV's Video Music Awards, which already had been set for Sunday, Aug. 24.

The experiences of other awards shows that moved from or to Monday may have also been considered.

The most prestigious and most watched of all such ceremonies, the Academy Awards, was held on Mondays for 32 of the 40 years leading up to 1999. The reason for this was primarily because movie studios did not want to eat into their own ticket sales by having the show on Sundays, which have historically been big moviegoing nights, unlike Mondays, when most people stay in. But in 1999, apparently out of concern that the show was losing East Coast viewers -- the telecast often ran past midnight, which was too late for people who had worked all day -- and causing traffic nightmares for Angelenos on a weeknight, it was moved by ABC to Sunday night and has remained there ever since, despite experiencing a double-digit ratings decrease that first year. (The dip was arguably more attributable to the absence of a movie like Titanic, which had drawn many viewers the previous year, at that year's ceremony).

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But many were sorry to lose a party-filled three-day weekend, which a Monday awards show essentially creates, since nominees require so many hours of preparation that they could never report to a set and then go to the show on the same day.

In 2006, NBC's Golden Globe Awards made the reverse jump, moving from Sunday to Monday, in order to avoid competing head-to-head with ABC's Desperate Housewives, the popularity of which had sent its ratings tumbling the previous year. The change brought about a double-digit increase in viewership from the previous year, the sort of bounce that NBC would love to see for the Emmys this year, as well.

Twitter: @ScottFeinberg