A decade-low viewership for the Golden Globes reveals a reality that the Oscars should finally accept: Your ratings aren’t coming back.
You couldn’t have had a better case study, actually, than this year’s Globes because it had everything going for it.
Not only did it boast coveted popular nominees like Black Panther, Crazy Rich Asians, A Star Is Born, and Bohemian Rhapsody, but Rhapsody actually won two of the biggest awards of the night: Picture and Best Actor (Drama).
As an added boost, the show had the biggest ratings gift of a lead-in you could possibly ask for: An NFL playoff game — and not just any playoff game. The Eagles-Bears Wild Card matchup was the most viewed broadcast of any kind since last year’s Super Bowl (a.k.a. TV’s most watched show evey year). NBC couldn’t have stacked the deck in the Globes favor any more than that.
And for good measure, hosts Andy Samberg and Sandra Oh made a point in pre-broadcast marketing to emphasize that they weren’t going to go political and that Trump’s name would be verboten. This was going to be fun, not preachy.
In short, the 2019 Golden Globes were tailor made for a big audience. It literally checked every box that the experts (and Academy) have claimed will bring in more viewers.
But it didn’t, and the Academy needs to embrace that.
Sure, if they want to tweak around the fringes of the Oscar show to legitimately strive for a better broadcast (reduce the run time, experiment with an earlier date, etc.), please do. But the desperate reaches for relevance and eyeballs – from suggesting a “Popular Film” award to turning the search for an Oscar host into a national crisis – needs to stop.
Simply put, it’s not a strong time right now for awards shows. All awards shows. It’s not you, Academy. It’s them. So stop whoring out your integrity for tricks you’ll never be able to turn.
If anything, double down on prestige and make the show you actually want to make (you know, like you do for the Governors Ball), that your industry professionals want, and that film lovers will prefer. Something that truly celebrates and honors the highest ideals of the art form, from cinematic craft to cultural impact, and the artists who achieve them.
Stop trying to change the Academy Awards. Preserve it.
Then when viewing trends shift back in favor of awards shows as they inevitably will, in ways we can’t predict or manufacture, the Oscars will still be there – and not in some bastardized form you’ll be regretting.