Award Shows Are Losing Viewers, but Will They Ever Die?

Michael Beausoleil
6 min readJun 1, 2021

On May 23, 2021, 2.33 million people tuned into the Billboard Music Awards. This is over 1.25 million fewer viewers than the 2020 show. A month earlier, the Academy Awards dropped by 58% when compared to 2020. In March 2021, the Grammy’s hit a historic low with only 7.88 million viewers.

These are just a few bullet points demonstrating the declining interest in award shows. While television ratings as a whole seem to be dropping, award shows have been disproportionally impacted. Viewers aren’t turning on the ceremonies, but networks still spend big money to bring in talent.

As a culture, this represents a shift. People used to rely on these shows as a summary of arts and media. The recognition of being nominated was an honor, and receiving an award could result in a huge sales boost. Now, people can get recommendations from other sources. Media is more accessible than ever, and traditional forms of media have less impact.

Numbers might be down, but award shows are still a staple of the TV lineup. They’re not likely to be leaving any time soon, but there will need to be some changes if they want people to care.

Not Just a Technology Change

As a whole, television has faced a change in viewership. Content can be streamed or recorded, and customers are cutting the cable in favor of cheaper options. There’s no doubt award shows have been impacted by the changes in technology, but this isn’t the only factor to consider.

Super Bowl 55 in 2021 was viewed by 91.6 million people, down from 100.45 million in 2020. The decline resulted in a loss of over 8% of viewers. Certainly noteworthy, but not nearly as severe as the award shows. Some award show audiences have been cut in half after trending negatively for years. There has to be a reason award shows have been hit harder.

Sometimes the explanation is a bit more simple. Viewers simply don’t like what they see.

The Weeknd via Wikimedia Commons and The Boar

Every year it seems some big names are omitted from award shows. Nominees don’t seem to reflect popular opinions and a…

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Michael Beausoleil

User Analytics | Digital & Brand Marketing | Productivity … hoping to explore topics that interest me and find others with similar passions