The Steady Decline of Awards Show Ratings

By Julie Burke

I’m an admitted award show junkie. I love watching the red-carpet fashion hits and misses, funny or failing opening monologues, and the long and short acceptance speeches – all while munching on popcorn, sipping some wine, cuddled in my Snuggie on my couch. But lately, it appears I’m in the minority. Ratings for award shows are slipping each year and these aren’t the “must buy” events for advertisers anymore. But why?

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Lights! Camera!  Zoom?  This year’s award shows will look drastically different.  Virtual Red carpets, smaller in-person audiences, and acceptance speeches via Zoom take the glitz and glamor out of the event, not to mention the technical glitches that interrupt the flow of the show.  The 2021 virtual Golden Globes, which aired this past Sunday, drew just 5.4 million Americans 18-49, and a 1.2 RTG (Nielsen preliminary, non-time zone adjusted data).  Compared to the 3.8 rating of the 2020 Golden Globes , this was a drastic ratings drop.

Let’s face it, the way we watch TV and movies has changed!

  • Streaming platforms have opened up viewing to offer endless content.
  • These platforms provide so many different shows, it’s impossible to see them all.  Because of this, the audience doesn’t have the same connection with shows or even know who the people are who star in them.  This results in a lack of interest in watching to see who will win.
  • The streaming platforms don’t have the same restrictions of broadcast TV.
  • Of all the 2021 Golden Globe television nominees, only ONE was from a broadcast TV program.
  • Netflix lead the way with total nominations – 42 total, with Amazon (10 nominations) and Hulu (10 nominations) also cracking the double digit nomination mark.
  • Subscriptions are required to watch their shows.  Currently in the US, 78% of households subscribe to Netflix, Amazon Prime and/or Hulu. 

And why watch it live, when I can just catch the winners and best clips the next day on my social media?  In this day and age of everything being available at our fingertips, the need to watch awards programs live has died off.  People can spend their time doing something else and catch the highlights the next day.

All of these reasons have contributed to the decline in ratings for these types of shows.  As an advertiser, it can be beneficial to place ads here if the price is right, and it is advantageous to align your product or service with national brands.  But the days of the “must buy” award shows have gone by the wayside.   Me?  I’m patiently waiting for the next red-carpet event, which I’ll be watching from my couch, still in my Snuggie.  Just don’t ask me who designed it!