69th Annual Emmys nearly tie for all-time lowest ratings

Big moments from the Emmys
Big moments from the Emmys

Sean Spicer was wrong again about audience size.

The 69th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards averaged 11.4 million viewers on Sunday night, according to CBS. That is about even with last year's telecast, which was the least-watched Emmys on record with 11.3 million viewers.

The ceremony included its fair share of surprises. Hulu's "The Handmaid's Tale" made history by becoming the first streaming service series to win the Emmy for outstanding drama. And before that, former White House press secretary Sean Spicer made a stunning cameo appearance that had viewers and pundits talking well into the next day.

In a bit with host Stephen Colbert, Spicer stood behind a podium and made light of his defense of Trump's inauguration attendance, saying "this will be the largest audience to witness the Emmys, period -- both in person and around the world."

The Emmys have seen a steady decline in viewership since 2013, when it brought in 17.7 million viewers -- the peak of the last decade.

Related: And the top award goes to ... Hulu?

The hit in viewership may stem from going head-to-head with NBC's "Sunday Night Football," which was a rematch of January's NFC Championship game between the Green Bay Packers and the Atlanta Falcons. However, the Emmys are typically up against the NFL.

While the numbers aren't great for the awards show, they have hardly "crashed and burned" as the all-caps headline on the conservative news aggregation site Drudge Report and others like it would have you believe.

The viewership is flat with last year, following years of declining numbers. The show was also able to bring in similar numbers as 2016 even though major markets in Florida were excluded because of disruption caused by Hurricane Irma.

As for the show itself, the Emmys nabbed positive reviews for how it handled the topic of President Trump.

"On Sunday night's Emmys broadcast on CBS — after months of presidential tweets and savage national discord, much of it played out on (and sometimes directed against) television — the industry was ready," wrote Mike Hale, television critic for the New York Times.

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