This Sunday's Emmy primetime awards may have been one of the least-watched ever, initial figures suggest.

According to statistics released by ratings analysts Nielsen Media Research, the prize-giving ceremony attracted 13.1 million viewers when it aired on the Fox channel on Sunday evening.

This compares to ABC's 2004 figure of 13.8 million but there are conflicting reports about whether it is the lowest ever. The Reuters news agency says Fox's 1990 Emmys, in which just 12.3 million viewers tuned in, remains the lowest point for the show.

Experts say competition from NBC's national football game between San Diego Chargers and New England Patriots contributed to the dampened ratings.

The news will be disappointing to American Idol presenter Ryan Seacrest, who fronted the show, and to fans of The Sopranos.

The mob drama won the outstanding drama series award for its final season, having done so only once before in 2004, and also took the individual director and writer prizes.

Sunday night was also a success for two British stars. Dame Helen Mirren, who took the best actress gong at this year's Oscars, won the prize for outstanding lead actress in a miniseries or movie for her part in Prime Suspect: The Final Act while Ricky Gervais won the outstanding lead actor in a comedy series award for his portrayal of Andy Millman in Extras.

18/09/2007 17:24:01