As this past March came and went, it reminded us of two things: 1.) It has been a year since we were all in lockdown and 2.) Awards season has begun. This year things transpired a bit differently than usual and the results were telling. You’d think since people had more time at home, they’d be tuned in to the awards. But similarly to the Super Bowl this year, ratings tanked. So we ask ourselves, why?
This article from the LA Times blames it on scheduling conflicts, social distancing guidelines as well as internal controversies. As with anything in life, especially marketing, timing is everything. Like the plunge in views in 2009, the lack of viewership could be a strike of sorts in light of a recent “Times investigation that examined the practices of the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn., which administers the awards. The report highlighted allegations of self-dealing, ethical lapses and the absence of Black members in the organization’s ranks, leading to sharp criticism from activist groups, entertainment industry guilds and a handful of high-profile stars” (Battaglio). As with all things digital, there are also bound to be some technical glitches. Some people’s mics were muted during their acceptance speech, as well as other visual and sound issues which could prove challenging for a viewer. “The ratings also likely were hurt by the delayed date for the telecast, which was moved from its customary early-January slot because of the postponed release dates for numerous films. In the past two years, the Golden Globe Awards telecasts were preceded by a late Sunday afternoon NFL playoff game on NBC, which provided a potent audience lead-in and promotional platform for the show” (Battaglio). Many of the movies nominated also did not make it to theaters – or if they did, not many people saw them due to many being closed/people not being able to get to a theatre. This could have contributed to the lack of interest in this year’s awards. The graph highlights Nielsen ratings in percentages for the years 1994-2021 against share of TV households tuned in. As you can see in the bar graph, the Nielsen rating for this year was a low 1.2. Whereas just last year, it was 4.7 (amongst their target of ages 18-49). In millions, the viewership for this year translates to just 6.9 million viewers in the US. This falls “dramatically below the previous low of 14.9 million viewers in 2009, the year after the ceremony was canceled due to the writers’ strike” (Battaglio). In 2020, the viewership was a whopping 18.4 million viewers – it was one of the most watched non-sports programs watched that year.
In order to provide a better digital experience and make this years show more interactive, hosts could have allowed the audience to sort of direct the show from home via polls on social media. This would garner more interest from viewers because they would actually want to tune in to see if their choice played out. The polls could have ranged from something small like choose which dress or fun costume the hosts will change into next to something bigger like an interactive game throughout the show.
The low turnout in this event as well as others in these recent pandemic-struck times lead us to question (although digital is great), the value of in-person experiences. As we have talked about in this class and in last semester’s MIS class, there are elements of face-to face interaction in the customer journey that hold value. For example, going in a store and feeling the clothes/trying them on. Or interacting with a sales associate face to face/speaking on the phone to customer service vs a bot. Over the years, awards shows have made many pop-culture moments such as Ellen’s most retweeted photo, Jimmy Kimmel’s tour-bus detour, and generally humorous meme content. This year was not one of those times, but will this be a trend?
Battaglio, Stephen. “6.9 Million Viewers Watched the Golden Globes Ceremony, an All-Time Low for NBC.” Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Times, 1 Mar. 2021, www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/business/story/2021-03-01/golden-globe-awards-ratings-nbc.
Stoll, Julia. “TV Ratings of the Golden Globes 2021.” Statista, 2 Mar. 2021, www.statista.com/statistics/289834/tv-ratings-golden-globes/.