The audience for NBC’s Sunday night broadcast of the Golden Globes fell dramatically, with 6.9 million people watching the annual Hollywood ceremony, according to Nielsen.
Even by the standards of declining award-show ratings, this one was a whopper. The viewing audience shrank by 62 percent compared with last year’s show, which drew more than 18 million people. It was the smallest audience for any Globes ceremony since NBC started broadcasting the event in 1996.
The show had a lot going against it. Because of the pandemic, it was moved out of its customary January time slot, meaning it lost its usual lead-in, a National Football League playoff game. This year’s event also skipped the red-carpet parade of stars wearing the latest in fashion from name designers.
Hosted by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler on separate coasts, the ceremony took place in front of a small crowd of emergency medical workers and others with essential jobs instead of Hollywood celebrities seated elbow-to-elbow in the cramped Beverly Hilton ballroom as drinks flowed. With winners and nominees beamed in remotely, the night also included technical glitches. And because movie theaters have been shut down, viewers were not as likely to have seen — or even to have heard of — many of the movies that were up for awards.
In the days leading up to the event, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times and other news media organizations published articles critical of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization with 87 members that started handing out Golden Globes in the 1940s. The articles noted that the group has no Black members and raised questions about its financial practices.
All awards shows have suffered ratings declines in recent years. But the audience for the Golden Globes had held steady, ranging between 18 and 20 million viewers since 2013. Last year, it even came within 5 million viewers of the Academy Awards, a number that seemed to justify NBC’s 2018 deal to pay $60 million a year for broadcast rights to the Golden Globes.
The audience for Sunday night’s show was only slightly larger than the one for the bare-bones Golden Globes telecast that revealed the winners in 2008 — effectively a news conference — when the ceremony was canceled because of a writers’ strike.
ABC now faces the challenge of trying to figure out ways to entice viewers to its Academy Awards show on April 25. Last year’s Oscars ceremony had an audience of 23 million viewers.