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.