NEW YORK – Kiefer Sutherland, "The Office" and all the other Emmy winners had a good night. So did Emmycast host Conan O'Brien, who scored plenty of laughs. But Emmy wasn't so fortunate, nor was NBC, which carried the awards program.
Sunday's awards show drew its fourth-smallest audience ever, according to preliminary figures from Nielsen Media Research.
It averaged 16.1 million viewers, down 14 percent from an average 18.8 million viewers last year, when the program was carried on CBS -- and was still in its traditional mid-September berth, rather than relegated to August to make way for "Sunday Night Football," which NBC begins Sept. 10.
But the shift in scheduling couldn't fully explain Emmy's poor audience showing. Aired by ABC on Sept. 19, 2004, the Emmycast drew an audience of only 13.8 million viewers.
Another possible reason: a dearth of nominations for popular series like "Lost" and "Desperate Housewives."
Even so, there was good news for NBC: It soundly won the night in viewers, even against strong competition: ABC's broadcast of "Pirates of the Caribbean" aired from 7 to 10 p.m. EDT, in a partial clash with the 8 to 11 p.m. airing of the Emmys.
Overall, NBC averaged 13.9 million viewers vs. runner-up ABC with 9.3 million, Nielsen said.