Awards shows in freefall as viewers abandon Golden Globes and Grammys

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The 2021 Grammy Awards were well-reviewed by critics, but viewership dropped by more than 50% from last year. Photo courtesy of the Recording Academy.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is worried about the Oscars telecast, and they have every right to be. Both major televised awards shows this year — the Golden Globes and the Grammys — have been ratings disasters.

The Golden Globes were a technical disaster and had only 6.9 million viewers, a 63% drop from last year. On the other hand, last weekend’s Grammys ran smoothly and the show was well-reviewed by critics, but viewership still fell by 51%, to just over 9 million viewers. 

While the Academy did make history with some of its Oscar nominations this year, it’s unclear how many people will turn up to watch the show, especially since a lot of people may not have seen most of the nominated films.  

What’s causing these steep viewership declines in awards shows? Ratings have been on a downward trend for years, but the dropoff has gotten especially steep during the pandemic, perhaps because people have recalibrated their viewing habits and may now go to a streaming service  before checking what’s on live TV.  

And even if a show can manage live performances like the Grammys did, many of these live events also don’t have the same amount of pizzazz without a live audience or crowd. Sports ratings have also taken a hit, likely for the same reason. 

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