Is a decline in ratings telling us that these award shows completely should be terminated? Or should we continue them in hopes of people being interested again in the future?
by Prithvi Prem
The Emmy Awards attracted the smallest audience in at least three decades last September, while this year’s Golden Globes fell to a 13-year low. Experts are already predicting the April 25 Oscars will be the least watched in the modern era as well. However, this sort of decline in ratings isn’t new, it’s just accelerated during the pandemic. Over the past decade, the Grammys’ audience has shrunk by more than 20 million viewers, while the Golden Globes has lost more than 10 million. This decline in ratings has caused there to be a massive disagreement around award shows and what should be done with them.
This is where the trilemma is presented. Is the decline in ratings telling us that these award shows completely should be terminated? Or should we continue them in hopes of people being interested again in the future?
POV 1: Award Shows Should Come to an End
The main issue around award shows is that they no longer feel special. Since the first Oscars started in 1929, many opportunists decided to throw their money to create even more award shows, practically creating carbon-copies of the originals. Through this, we see the creation of the Golden Globes, Emmys, BAFTAs, and Guild awards. We have even seen this in the music industry, with the Grammys, American Music Awards, the Billboard Music Awards, the MTV Video Music Awards, and the Academy of Country Music Awards. This oversupply of award shows has made the entire format stale.
Another large issue with the shows is the academies themselves. Members of the various groups stand in the way of dramatic change. There has been a continuous struggle to build a diverse group of nominees, taking decades for the award shows to adopt people who represent different races, sexualities, social backgrounds, etc. Additionally, keep in mind that these award shows were essentially forced to do this as they were called out for not incorporating artists that represented minorities. Especially in the world we live in now, diversity plays a large factor in the viewership of these award shows, and it is more and more important that the academies get this right.
Viewership is also largely affected by the politics which is present at these shows. Many of the attendees attempt to use the platform to preach or bring awareness to some political issue. Since politics is obviously a very sensitive topic in this country, it tends to annoy many viewers, causing them to not watch the show.
The politics, staleness, and lack of diversity all add up, making many awards shows unwatchable to more and more people every year. If this trend continues, fewer and fewer viewers will tune in to these shows, eventually resulting in them being disbanded. To avoid that freefall, award shows should just call it quits right now. That way they can save more money and avoid the major humiliation that would come with a slow fall from grace.
POV 2: Awards Shows Should Continue as They Are
Award shows have caught a lot of slack over the last few years and they are still a large part of the culture around the world. There are still many aspects where shows excel, which continue to help them garner some viewership around the globe.
Along with that winning awards also boosts popularity for many of the movies present at the shows. For example, after its 2017 Best Picture upset, Moonlight earned $2.5 million its first weekend alone—not bad for a film that cost only $1.5 million to make. Another example of this can be seen with the Grammys. Their Best New Artist category occasionally kick-starts the career of a thrilling artist. We have seen winners like Alessia Cara, Billie Eilish, and Dua Lipa have truly successful careers after winning this award.
The COVID-19 pandemic has led many of these shows’ organizers to rethink the entire structure of the show, which has mostly worked out in their favor. We saw this with the Grammys two weeks ago, which was filled with record breaking wins and some of the best musical performances in the past couple years. We saw many females win big during the night, along with some breathtaking performances, like Lil Baby’s “ The Bigger Picture”, and Dua Lipa’s “Levitating”.
Additionally, it is important to keep in mind that these award shows are continually becoming more progressive each year, incorporating minorities and essentially diverting from awarding people of the same social category every time. Despite the social change being a bit slow and additionally requiring the public to speak up on the certain kinds of discrimination against many groups of aritsts, it’s necessary to bring support to many talented individuals.
By considering all these positive impacts that these award shows have brought throughout the years with the gradual social changes that they are making, there is a chance the public will see the change and continue to participate in watching these events.
POV 3: My Opinion
I personally believe that award shows should continue as they are. Even though the academies have made some questionable decisions in the past, it allows massive public attention towards the awards, therefore boosting popularity. Many shows have had to restructure due to this pandemic which has proved to work very well for them. The lack of a standard, large audience has given the organizers more freedom in terms of setting up the show as well.
With that being said though, I still feel like there are some aspects which award shows will need to improve on. First of all, I think that they should start giving awards to less mainstream nominations. Although it might not be the most popular choice, it exposes the audience to new personalities that have the potential to diversify the entertainment industry, boosting the nominees’ popularity while also featuring entertainment from different backgrounds (instead of only mainstream). Along with that, I think that it would be extremely entertaining if these shows could have certain comedy sketches or other performances other than just giving out awards. This allows the organizers to have some creative freedom, which if used right, can certainly boost the show.