Mar 2, 2021 - Economy

Hollywood's big awards shows are in trouble

Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Hollywood Foreign Press Association

Ratings for the Golden Globes on NBC likely fell to a record low Sunday, according to preliminary ratings from Nielsen.

The big picture: The pandemic has sped up the trend of ratings declines.

The final number, which should be out Tuesday morning, is expected to be significantly lower than the 18.3 million people that watched the program last year.

Data: Nielsen; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: Nielsen; Chart: Axios Visuals
  • Viewership of the Emmys in September dropped 11% year-over-year to just 6.1 million viewers, another record low.
  • Last year, even before the pandemic-driven shutdowns, Oscars viewership fell to a record low of 26.3 million viewers. The Grammy Awards hit a new low later that month in the key 18-49 advertising demo.

Be smart: The Golden Globes typically serves as a litmus test for how ratings will fare for the remainder of the year. The 2021 ratings are a bad indicator for the Oscars, set to air in March, with the Emmys and Grammys later this year.

  • Part of the problem could be bigger than the shows themselves. The pandemic upended the production schedules of Hollywood's biggest studios, reducing the number of hits that were able to debut last year.

Yes, but: The Globes was full of awkward moments, which may have turned some viewers off.

  • The night opened with technical glitches during the first acceptance speech.
  • Instead of a glamorous star-studded red carpet affair, the telecast was held virtually, and most of the nominees and winners appeared from their homes.
  • While some stars downed pretty gowns and suits, others made acceptance speeches in their pajamas.
  • Comedians Tina Fey and Amy Poehler joked about the strange nature of hosting the show remotely, as they appeared live from two different cities.
  • The event also included an awkward acknowledgment from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association about the group's lack of diversity, following a damning profile about the group that published just days before the show.

The bottom line: The coveted award show events that networks used to rely on to sell lucrative ad sponsorships are less appealing in the digital age.

Go deeper: Award show viewership drops to record lows

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