The Emmy Awards had one of its smallest audiences ever on Sunday.

It seemed somehow appropriate for an awards show that showered honors upon "Mad Men" and "30 Rock," series with critical acclaim and lousy ratings.

Nielsen Media Research's preliminary estimate was that 12.24 million people watched Sunday's show. If that number holds up when more complete national ratings come in, it will be less than the 2007 and 1990 shows, which were both slightly under 13 million.

The Emmys had some tough competition with a Dallas-Green Bay football game and "60 Minutes" interviews with John McCain and Barack Obama.

Still, it's an ominous sign for TV's new season, which opens Monday.

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Winners at the 60th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards.

Click here for Griff Jenkins' Emmys Blog.