How ‘This Is Us’ and ‘Black-ish’ Performed in Latest Emmy-Nominated Seasons

Regular nominees have September’s ceremony and one more season to finally win the big one

This Is Us Blackish
NBC/ABC

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“This Is Us” and “Black-ish” both earned Emmy nominations on Tuesday and are the only two broadcast series in contention for top honors in their respective genres this year. The NBC drama drew its fourth Outstanding Drama nod in five seasons, and the ABC sitcom earned its fourth nomination for top comedy in seven seasons.

Though neither has ever won those top categories, that nomination domination is pretty darn good. But how were their Nielsen ratings this season? Readers of this column probably already know “This Is Us” hugely outperforms “Black-ish,” but did it hold up better in an environment where basically every show declines every year?

The 2020-21 season of “This Is Us” averaged a 2.0 Nielsen rating among adults 18-49, which is generally considered the key demographic for entertainment programming. The NBC drama drew 9.3 million total viewers per episode.

Those figures, which include one week of (mostly) DVR catch-up viewing for each episode of the fifth season, place it among the top shows on all of television — but they’re still down from last season. Dan Fogelman’s Pearson Family drama dropped 31% and 19%, respectively, from Season 4 to Season 5.

“Black-ish” Season 7 averaged a 0.6 rating in the key demo and 3.1 million total viewers, including one week of delayed viewing. Those Nielsen figures rank the Anthony Anderson-Tracee Ellis Ross comedy dozens of slots down the list.

The 2020-21 season of “Black-ish” experienced declines of 33% in the demo and 16% in overall-audience tallies.

Overall, NBC’s primetime has declined by 23% in the demo and 18% overall this (September to May) season vs. last. ABC’s fell 18% in rating and 14% in total viewers. The average broadcast declines were 22% and 21%, respectively.

It’s important to note here that production impacts due to the COVID-19 pandemic made original programming scarcer for the second half of 2020 and into 2021 than it was for the vast majority of the 2019-20 traditional TV season. In ABC’s case, having the 2020 NBA Finals in October, and not their normal June slot, helped offset some of that.

Both “This Is Us” and “Black-ish” are set to end after next season, which will be No. 6 for “This Is Us” and No. 8 for “Black-ish.” Six seasons was always the “This Is Us” plan. As for “Black-ish,” it’s just time.

Find all the 2021 Emmy nominees here. The 73rd Emmy Awards are set for Sept. 19 on CBS.

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