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Must the show go on?

By Ellen Fruchtman, President

With the 2021 Oscars just around the corner, award shows may want to take a step back and survey how much they might mean, or not mean, to today’s viewers. Sure, we love to see the stars dressed to the nines and wearing extravagant jewels and clothing us mere mortals can only dream of wearing, but the ratings tell a different story.

Yes, watching people on Zoom accept their awards is not quite the same, but the trends pre-COVID were not heading in the right direction.

The 2021 Grammy’s were down 51% from last year with just over 9 million viewers. Both the Golden Globes (also a technical disaster) were down a whopping 63% with only 6.9 million viewers. By any stretch of the imagination, they were rating disasters.

Yes, the Oscars have made history with some nominations, but the Academy of Arts and Sciences has every right to be worried. Let’s face it, most have not seen many of the movies up for grabs. And, what Hollywood continues to forget is that middle America is not Los Angeles or New York. They’re turning to streaming services and live TV. And, truthfully, are way over the political statements made by human beings who are not any better or wiser than you or me. You watch awards shows for light entertainment. Maybe, just maybe, they’re no fun anymore.

Viewership has been heading in a steep decline for years and you can’t blame it on COVID. People certainly miss live audiences and crowds. Sport shows are also down. The NCAA Basketball FInals were down 19% from 2019 (they were canceled in 2020).

Perhaps it’s a sign of the times. Maybe we’re all looking for a little more genuine and a little less hypocrisy. So, if you’re still buying some traditional TV, it’s time to negotiate those rates for awards shows down.

I sure do miss Billy Crystal.

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