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Award Shows’ Fall From Glory
While Jimmy Kimmel, in his second outing as host, received generally good reviews, the 90th Oscars telecast hit a 9-year low. But it’s not just the Oscars’ audience that is shrinking; award shows, as a group, are showing a decline in viewership. Almost across the board, every awards show telecast has seen ratings trending down, from the Emmys to the Grammys to the Oscars.
The 2018 Grammy’s in January received the smallest audience in the show’s history for their key demo of Adults 18-49. Last Fall’s Emmys broadcast was also at an all-time low, pulling in just 11.38 million viewers. It is worth mentioning that HBO took home the most awards with Netflix coming in second, so much like the Oscars – who in recent years have awarded more to smaller, independent films that many mainstream US viewers often haven’t seen or even heard of – the shows winning the most Emmys are often watched by a small percentage of US viewers, which is likely leading to the ratings decline of the actual broadcast. People are less enthusiastic about watching an awards show celebrating TV shows they don’t watch. The only awards show that seems to be bucking the trend is the Golden Globes with a slight increase in 2015 and static from 2017 to 2018.
Fun fact: The highest Oscars rating in the 21st century was the 2014 telecast, hosted by Ellen DeGeneres, with Best Picture winner going to 12 Years a Slave. It had 43.7 million tune in.
So what is our overall takeaway here? It seems that even though their audience numbers are declining, the quality of the awards show viewer is still high. They index high with some very desirable audiences to many advertisers; Women 35-54 with HHI of $150K+, with college and post graduate degrees, and living in the Northeast or Mid-Atlantic. And with declining ratings generally comes some cost decreases or negotiation opportunity. So if reaching that affluent, educated female homeowner hits the sweet spot for your target audience, awards shows just might be one of the right places for you to be. (Source: 2016 Doublebase GfK MRI)
Shifting Focus to the Winter Olympics
NBC’s coverage of the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics saw lower ratings than previous Winter Games. Sources put the number between a 7% to 15% decrease in viewership over the last Winter Olympics in Sochi. Ratings for the Opening Ceremony were down 8.6% over four years ago. Despite these decreases, the Winter Olympics were still by far the highest rated programming on television during that period.
Continuing the theme of reaching your key demo, enter ABC’s The Bachelor, now in its 22nd season. Ratings were down over last season – likely due to tepid interest in the Bachelor chosen for this season, Arie Luyendyk – but last night’s controversial finale was this season’s most watched, with 7.8 million viewers, winning the night in the key demo of Adults 18-49. There is a strong correlation between the viewers and the social media engagers. These shows tend to be more DVR-resistant, as people want to watch live so they can live tweet and read along with the Bachelor Twitterverse, including celebrities like Anna Kendrick, Amy Schumer, Jenny McCarthy, Ryan Reynolds, and Sarah Hyland. The Nielsen Social Content rating from last night showed Bachelor on top with almost 2.6MM social posts. This series is a great example of how social media gave an ‘old show, new legs’ and how social buzz can drive to keep a program relevant.