Awards Shows Are In Trouble, Not Just The Golden Globes

Over the last decade, we have seen an explosion of new original TV content. One of the biggest categories is awards shows.

While these are once-a-year efforts, they still offer big overall advertising revenue gains -- and plenty of extra off-air marketing opportunities that ongoing unscripted, scripted entertainment and sports TV programming don’t have.

Advertisers have come running. Even in recent years, the Academy Awards, Emmys, Grammys and Golden Globes events  provided brand-safe, highly viewable consumer engagement.

In 2020, total Oscar ad revenue, per Kantar, was $150 million for one three-hour event in late February. That's before the pandemic upended the entertainment business. 

Until recently, most of the shows have been top individual TV programs each year. But now, not so much.

But, as we have seen in recent years -- and especially with the pandemic -- there has been a sharp decline in interest. In part, all this collided with a glut of premium entertainment.



The recent Oscar broadcast took a massive hit, down 60% to 9.8 million viewers from 23.6 million in 2020. This 20 million plus viewer level had been relatively constant over the last few years.

Again, the pandemic contributed to changing circumstances. Many events -- with virtual or with limited live audiences -- revealed a lower level of excitement.

Still, in part, advertisers continue to hang around. The Oscars got an estimated $2.1 million for a 30-second commercial this year, according to Kantar -- a trend that has steadily risen over the past years. ABC regular sells out its Oscar advertising inventory.

Some would say the Oscar decline comes from not highlighting big box office movies, but the reality that many niche, independent, lower-box office movies take home trophies. That might draw a smaller viewership.

There is also an issue of viewer fatigue.

Now, diversity issues keep plaguing some shows, though the Oscars curtailed some criticism by honoring more women/minorities with awards/nominations.

That was less so for the Golden Globes -- at least for its internal operations. It had one of the fastest-growing awards shows. Still, among its 87 voting members, not one is black. And there hasn’t been one since 1987!

All that put the kibosh on the show recently. NBCUniversal won't air the Globes in 2022. It has a contract to run the event through 2026.

What does this mean for other awards shows? Now, they too have to contend with content popularity, potential diversity (in front and behind the camera) and creative show issues.

And less we forget, these shows also have to navigate a growing streaming/on-demand world -- one with less live, linear TV content, which has helped sustain its ongoing financial health.

Solving these issues will take some effort. Maybe they deserve an award for it.

1 comment about "Awards Shows Are In Trouble, Not Just The Golden Globes".
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  1. Alan COX from Dan Fife Communications and Marketing, May 17, 2021 at 3:22 p.m.

    Mr. Friedman, I have worked in the motion picture industry and in broadcast television. For many years I would explain to TV viewers and friends that the Oscars is a large industry party. Their likes and dislikes were not related to the boxoffice. I would explain the voting and most folks would say that makes sense. The falling ratings is the fault of the leadership of the Academy.  I would say that over the last 15 years or so the Oscars have become a political stage play. The removal of a guest host that provided a little humor was first action to start the down turn. When an entertainer is required to be reviewed by a committee strikes of McCarthyism  Almost all entertainers have a transgression in their background.  the Hollywood Elite stand on stage bashing the likes and dislikes of the movie goer and TV viewer. So people find other programs to watch.

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