Billboard Music Awards Sink 55% to All-Time Ratings Low

Billboard Music Awards
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Post Malone swept the Billboard Music Awards with nine trophies. But few people tuned in live.

Variety estimates around 3.6 million viewers tuned in via NBC, which is a 55% drop from last year. The total viewership of the show dropped an estimated 62% among the 18-49 demographic. That’s a new all-time low, though the numbers aren’t that surprising if you’ve been paying attention.

Viewership of awards ceremonies is down across the board in 2020. The Oscars fell 20%, the Emmys fell 11%, and the ACM awards fell 30%. The Billboard Music Awards also had the dubious dishonor of being pushed back five months due to COVID-19. Either way, the stats suggest a big shift in culture, one in which self-congratulatory award-show masturbation just isn’t compelling entertainment anymore.

Some analysts believe the many dozens of awards shows littered throughout the year causes bloat. It’s already bad in television and film, but the music industry is overflowing with awards galas.

Between hearing about the AMAs, Grammys, MTV Music Awards, BET Hip Hip Awards, Country Music Awards, Billboard Music Awards and more – it’s just too much.

When asking viewers who actually watch these shows why they stopped, the answer is simple. Many people believe the shows have gotten too long. No one wants to sit through a three-hour award ceremony with commercials like it’s the Super Bowl. Not when the era of 15-second videos is upon us.

Audiences have been tuning out of award shows for years, but streaming and the pandemic have exacerbated the decline in 2020. The Billboard Music Awards is just the latest victim of a trend showing that award ceremonies are dying a slow, painful death with traditional TV.

It also doesn’t help that the Recording Academy was mired in scandal in January – before the pandemic hit. Former CEO Deborah Dugan filed a discrimination lawsuit against the Recording Academy right after getting fired. The lawsuit included allegations of sexual misconduct, gender discrimination, and corruption. That latter bit has done more to tarnish the industry’s reputation than the former.

The lawsuit also laid out how the Grammy voting process is allegedly tainted. Dugan says members of the Academy vote on submissions for awards. The top 20 entries are reviewed by smaller committees to narrow down the final five to eight nominees list for each category.

Dugan says the board uses the committees to promote artists they have relationships with to “manipulate the nominations process” to include songs that Grammys producer Ken Ehrlich wants to be performed during the ceremony.

“The board has even given nominations to submissions that weren’t in the top 20 list at all,” the lawsuit states. “This year, that happened with 30 nominees.” While this specific instance is about the Recording Academy and the Grammys, behavior like this taints all awards shows.

7 Responses

  1. Bummer

    that terrible promo design was enough to keep me from even considering watching.

  2. Trayvon

    Why would I watch a collection of overpaid spoiled uneducated brats lecture me on social justice?

  3. Impossible!

    Wait. You mean people out there disagree with the factually and logically incorrect arguments of BLM and hate watching a victim parade while getting blamed for problems that don’t actually exist, and don’t want to be lectured by millionaires during shows that used to give them an escape? Sounds pretty far fetched.

      • Anonymous

        They are fake. Billboard doesn’t care about things like stream farms or that YouTube is selling views. They count fake views and streams as legit.

  4. Roberto

    Record companies used to give artists large advances to make quality music. But then why invest $250,000 in a new band when you can give some solo rapper $2K then promote and market this music to the brainwashed younger generation. And then surprise, surprise they actually go out and buy this music! And then this new generation of music fans are convinced that this new music is what they ‘LIKE’ since this is what they hear all the time. And the dumbing down of the world gets worse and worse (did I hear somebody say “Kardasians”) and now we know why few people have little interest in these ridiculous Awards shows. Quality in music is long gone and ain’t coming back!