Even with more people at home during the COVID-19 pandemic this year, awards show TV ratings plummeted across the board. From the country-specific CMA and ACM Awards, to the American Music Awards and the Grammys, ratings were down significantly from 2019.
Notably, Nielsen—the company who calculates TV ratings—revealed plans to launch a new system that includes impressions from the TV screen, as well as those embedded in a smartphone or computer in ratings calculation. The process is expected to start in the fourth quarter of 2022 and be completed by the fall of the 2024 TV season.
The 62nd Annual Grammy Awards
January’s 62nd Annual Grammy Awards narrowly avoided the complications of carrying out an awards show with COVID-19 safety regulations in place. However, the televised awards suffered a 12-year low in viewership, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The 62nd Annual Grammy Awards drew 18.7 million viewers and a 5.4 rating among adults 18-49 in time zone-adjusted ratings. 2019’s ceremony ended up with 19.88 million viewers and a 5.6 in the 18-49 demographic.
The 2020 telecast was the show’s smallest audience since it garnered 17.18 million viewers in 2008. The all-time low in viewership for the Grammy Awards was in 2006, when 17 million people tuned in.
Dan + Shay won their second Grammy for Best Country Duo/Group Performance at the Awards for “Speechless.” Tanya Tucker earned her very first two Grammy honors, with Best Country Song for “Bring My Flowers Now,” and Best Country Album for While I’m Livin’. Willie Nelson earned Best Country Solo Performance for “Ride Me Back Home,” the title track from his 2019 album.
The MTV Video Music Awards
The MTV Video Music Awards was comprised of pre-recorded performances and select live moments. According to Variety, a total of 6.4 million viewers tuned in across MTV and the 12 other ViacomCBS brands on which it was simulcast, as opposed to 6.8 million last time around (that includes the pre-show, main show, post-show, and encores).
The VMAs drew in a huge social media response, however, delivering 41.1 million interactions across social media, making it the second most-socialed show of the year, only behind the Super Bowl.
The 55th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards
The 55th annual Academy of Country Music Awards, aired on CBS in Sept., surprised viewers with a shocking tie for Entertainer of the Year. The show dominated primetime, bringing in 6.59 million viewers and earning a 1.0 rating in the 18-49 demo (1.5 in adults 25-54 demo).
While 6.59 million viewers was enough for the Academy of Country Music Awards to dominate its timeslot, it fell significantly short of last year’s ratings of 9.9 million viewers over three hours (and a 1.6 rating in the 18-49 demo).
This year, the show moved from its usual April airing to Sept., and aired from Nashville for the first time, incorporating performances and awards presentations from three iconic venues—The Bluebird Cafe, the Grand Ole Opry, and the Ryman Auditorium.
Carrie Underwood and Thomas Rhett tied for the night’s top honor, Entertainer of the Year, while Luke Combs earned two honors, Male Artist of the Year and Album of the Year (for What You See Is What You Get).
Dan + Shay took home the evening’s first honor, Duo of the Year, while Maren Morris was named Female Artist of the Year. Old Dominion was also a double winner, picking up Song of the Year for “One Man Band,” as well as the Group of the Year honor. Blake Shelton‘s “God’s Country” was named Single of the Year.
The 2020 Billboard Music Awards
The 2020 Billboard Music Awards, which aired in Oct., also fell to an all-time ratings low.
NBC’s broadcast of the show managed only 3.71 million viewers and a 0.8 rating among adults 18-49, down by more than 50 percent in both measures from the 2019 show (8 million viewers and a 2.1 in the key ad demographic), according to The Hollywood Reporter.
During the telecast, Garth Brooks was recognized with an ICON Award, and was the first country artist to receive the honor. Luke Combs walked away with three awards, including Top Country Artist, Top Country Male Artist, and Top Country Album for What You See Is What You Get. Maren Morris was awarded Top Country Female Artist, while George Strait won Top Country Tour. Dan + Shay took home Top Country Duo/Group and their hit with Justin Bieber “10,000 Hours,” won Top Country Song.
The 54th Annual Country Music Association Awards
The ratings for The 54th Annual CMA Awards slipped by 40 percent, earning 6.8 million total viewers, and a 1.1 rating among adults 18-49—an all-time low in viewership for the program. The 2019 awards show brought in 11.3 million viewers, earning a 2.0 rating in the 18-39 demo.
The previous lowest-viewership for the show was in 2018, when 10.06 million viewers tuned in, earning the show a 2.1 rating in the 18-49 demo.
New winners abounded at the Nov. 2020 CMA Awards. Most notably, Eric Church cinched his first CMA Entertainer of the Year honor after three previous nominations. Maren Morris, a three-time winner this year, took home her first wins for Female Vocalist of the Year, as well as Single of the Year and Song of the Year for “The Bones.” Songwriter Laura Veltz, a first-time nominee this year, also earned her first win for Song of the Year as a co-writer on “The Bones”, and Jimmy Robbins won his first CMA Award with the song.
Morris’ Sony label-mate Luke Combs took home his first Album of the Year win (for What You See Is What You Get), along with his second Male Vocalist of the Year honor.
The American Music Awards
The American Music Awards‘ Nov. show drew its smallest audience ever, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The show garnered 4.01 million viewers for the night, a 40 percent drop from the 2019 show, and earned a 1.0 in adults 18-49 (a 41 percent drop in the demo year-over-year).
Dan + Shay, Kane Brown, Blake Shelton and Maren Morris were among the winners at the Awards. Dan + Shay earned three awards including Favorite Duo or Group—Country, Favorite Song—Country, and Collaboration of the Year, for “10,000 Hours” with Justin Bieber. With the latter win, the duo became the first ever country artists to take home the all-genre Collaboration of the Year title. They also performed their current Top 10 (and climbing) track “I Should Probably Go To Bed.”
Brown took home the Favorite Country Artist—Male honor while Morris was named Favorite Country Artist—Female. Shelton earned Favorite Album—Country for Fully Loaded: God’s Country.
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