Monitoring the social media activity around the 68th Emmy Awards reveals how people watch and post socially about the show, and charts the continuing evolution from broadcast networks to a medium increasingly now almost entirely dominated by cable and streaming content for outlets like Amazon and Netflix.

More importantly, this year’s Emmy’s also personified the continuing challenge awards shows and networks face. The awards presentation received record-low ratings for the Jimmy Kimmel-hosted event. The broadcast received an average of 11.3 million viewers, down from 11.8 million last year.

Between Sept. 12 and 19, Zignal Labs tracked more than 100,000 social media mentions of the emmys, focusing on co-mentions of the awards with the networks, streaming services and shows nominated for awards.

Mentions spiked on awards day with more than 59,000 of the Emmys social activity coming on Sunday.


The big winners got the big mentions, led by a pair of HBO stalwarts. We also saw interest in the Amazon show Transparent and the mini series based on the events around the O.J. Simpson trial.


This was not necessarily a banner year for HBO. In fact, the network received fewer Emmy nominations than in years past. But in an industry that is becoming increasingly fractured, the cable network is still the major force to be reckoned with. The strength of HBO shows — particularly Veep and Game of Thrones — explains why the cable network was the most-mentioned channel throughout the week — topping even ABC, which hosted the awards show.


As could be expected, much of the social interest was tabulating the scoreboard of winners, updated throughout the night. But we also saw the power of cross-media marketing, and social creatures looking to piggyback on some Emmy’s publicity. The most popular Tweet and shared link of the night involved promotion of a YouTube performance by Internet interpretive dancer extraordinaire Ben Ryan Metzger.

The Future of Television is Coming into Focus

Though monitoring the Emmys-related social traffic, we see the evolution of both television and marketing. While new forms of media are ascending, we see the solidification of the multi-screen viewing experience, with social activity augmenting live broadcast. This is the way the world watches events, from the Olympics to presidential debates to award shows.