Network award shows face declining ratings

Award shows are a classic staple in Hollywood and the entertainment industry. Within the last few years, though, these ceremonies have left many people debating the need for them. The question up for debate is whether people still care to watch them.

Throughout the years, television networks covered and aired multiple awards shows like The Academy Awards, The Golden Globes, The Grammys and many more. Some audiences tune in for the awards portion of the ceremony, while some tune in for the live musical performances. Others watch just for the fashion and red carpet interviews.

Dr. Melissa Croteau, film studies professor, weighs in on the magic of these shows.

“When you are watching these shows anything can happen,” Croteau said. “Something could easily go horribly wrong. There are moments that really endure in popular culture with not just people in the industry, but also outside the industry.” 

Within the last few years, viewership decreased year after year. The 63rd Grammy Awards hit a historic low for total viewership, coming in at 8.8 million viewers, according to Nielsen. Some have raised questions about whether the COVID-19 pandemic has had a severe effect on award shows or if it is due to pre-existing issues.

One factor could be the lack of diversity within the award organizations. Recently, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association came under fire for not having a single Black member.

“These are not post-modern organizations,” Croteau said. “For most television and film academies, you are a member for life. With that being said, much like the rest of the world, older white men are going to be the majority for a while. There is only so far you can go with what you have.”

She expanded. “I hope that there is a critical mass of older white people who are in positions of power, who take this on as their own cause. Who invest in it as their own worldview,” Croteau said.

The truth is that audiences look to see themselves in the art they watch or listen to. Without diversity in these organizations, actors and filmmakers of color are being neglected from a seat at the industry table. With this lack of representation, there is no reason to wonder why viewership has plummeted.

 Brianne Jackson, sophomore theater major, said audiences now care more for specific fields.

“I think people care about what is going on in that specific field,” Jackson said. “But as for the actual show and celebration, I don’t think it is that huge of a deal to them. I think award shows are just fun for the community.”

Justin Magana, junior theatre major, was conflicted.

“It’s hard to tell, especially since it seems our culture and society have been on pause for the last year,” Magana said.

 Croteau said the shows need to adapt to keep their place at the table.

“I don’t think these shows are going anywhere,” Croteau said. “As long as network television is what it is — not on the main stage anymore. Network television is going to have to do these live events to distinguish themselves from streaming competitors.”

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