American Music Awards Ratings Plunge 50% to All-Time Low

Justin Bieber
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Justin Bieber
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Justin Bieber, who performed at the 2020 American Music Awards and took home an award for “Favorite Male Artist – Pop/Rock.” Photo Credit: Lou Stejskal / CC by 2.0

Are awards shows dying? 2020 American Music Awards ratings slipped an unthinkable 50 percent from 2019, finishing at an all-time low 0.9 rating for individuals aged 18-49. Total AMA viewership dipped more than 43 percent year over year, to 3.8 million.

For reference, about 6.7 million fans tuned in for last year’s 47th American Music Awards ceremony, which garnered an average 1.8 rating in the 18-49 demographic, tying the awards show’s previous all-time low rating. Additionally, the latest viewership total marks a staggering 7.8 million-viewer fall-off from the 2010 AMA ratings, which came in at 11.6 million watchers (with a 4.3 rating in the 18-49 category).

It’s also worth noting that the AMAs’ television audience has continued to shrink at a rapid pace in more recent years. The aforementioned 7.8 million-fan slip (since 2010) is substantial, but even the 2016 AMAs attracted some 4.4 million more viewers than the 2020 AMAs.

The likes of Justin Bieber, The Weeknd, Katy Perry, Machine Gun Kelly, and BTS performed live during the 2020 AMAs. But evidently, the sets were unable to compel a larger number of viewers (compared to 2019) to watch the hours-long event in its entirety. Other awards shows have also experienced a clear-cut viewership decline in 2020, as part of a years-running trend that’s seen many fans pivot to different programs and forms of entertainment – including streaming services.

In January, prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Grammys attracted their lowest number of viewers since 2008. Last month’s Billboard Music Awards experienced a 55 percent year-over-year viewership fall-off, at an estimated 3.6 million live viewers, as well as a 62 percent decline in the 18-49 ratings category.

Viewership for the 2020 MTV Video Music Awards also decreased from 2019. And despite performances from artists such as Jason Aldean, Luke Combs, cohosts Reba McEntire and Darius Rucker, and even Justin Bieber, this month’s Country Music Awards recorded a new viewership low of 7.1 million.

Moving forward, as the number of entertainment and media options continues to grow, it’ll be worth seeing how – or whether – leading awards shows in the music industry and the broader entertainment sphere adjust in an effort to maintain fan interest and remain relevant.

Taylor Swift – who’s taken home the AMAs’ “Artist of the Year” award for three consecutive years and has received the most AMA awards, 32, of any musician – made headlines after stating in her (remote) acceptance speech that she’s in the process of re-recording her old music. The development follows Scooter Braun’s reportedly $300 million sale of Swift’s catalog to Shamrock Holdings.

11 Responses

  1. Tom Hendricks

    The Big Three Labels have ruined music. You and I know it.

    They should know it now. Their marketing ploy of blocking all new music doesn’t work.

    Support the music revolution or at least talk about its ideas.

  2. Roberto

    The people all started stealing music which led to streaming where the music fans can get free music. I think we are now seeing the consequences of this free music era where 60% of professional musicians have already quit the music business and most music is now made by hobbyists in their bedrooms. The QUALITY of music continues to decline as quality music costs a lot of money. We now have the era of mostly disposable, flavor of the month, same old song over and over again. No surprise that people have lost interest in music!

  3. Todd Jackson

    Mix the political commentary with inferior music equals nobody cares, look at the NBA finals ratings!

    • G.O. Pee

      Someone always has to bring up politics. Jesus!

      For all the shit the world is going through right now, the NBA had fine ratings. Settle down, sparky. So did baseball and football, etc. Give it a rest.

  4. Ronnie Powell

    Just wait till you see the upcoming Grammy ratings! Disaster!

    • Hooter

      Yeah, but that’s due to the crap which was nominated and that nobody cares about music, in general, because they don’t value it.

  5. Tomas Cantoral

    Here’s a quote that’s food for thought:

    “When it comes to popular music there’s a fine almost invisible line between entertainment and corruption.”

    No wonder so many people are turned off.

  6. Rick

    When the music business turned over to kids who don’t have enough life experience to make music of substance and have nothing to say, that was the end of it. “We won’t play music by anyone over thirty,” looks like the over 30s and under aren’t showing up anymore. There’s a lot of good music out there, but no one gets to hear it. This modern generation gets exposed to good music via video games and soundtrack music, a lot of them know pop music is crap. Obviously, they aren’t supporting it.

  7. Jan Robert Goldnert

    Nothing to do with reward shows per se. The music is meeting the needs of the fans less and less. The market is changing. Hence rewards for music that formerly met the needs of fans are becoming less popular.

  8. Ritch Esra

    This has been happening over the last decade with ALL AWARD SHOWS –
    The Grammy’s The Oscars, The Golden Globes, etc. There’s far too many of them and today’s generation just doesn’t care about award shows of any kind. Also, if you want to see your favorite artist performance on any of these shows, don’t worry, it’ll be up on YouTube within a matter of hours. When we only had 1 music awards show (The Grammy’s) or 1 film award show (The Oscars) people cared. Now, like late night talk shows (of which there are 5 per per night) nobody cares and withe very rare exception, they have no impact whatsoever in the marketplace. This is ALL part of a much bigger issue in media today – We have TOO MUCH – OF EVERYTHING. In 2016, there were 215 scripted shows per week on TV, now we have 587. With that level of tyranny in our media choices, is it any wonder that the ratings for these things is slipping away?