Grammy Television Viewers Slump By Three Million, Smallest Since 2009

Does a major dip in the number of Grammy viewers suggest public interest in the industry awards is declining?

The show’s smallest audience since 2009 watched, possibly with indifference, as Sam Smith scooped up the major prizes. In the U.S. 25.3 million tuned in to watch, down 11 percent on 2014, when a mass wedding and Beatles tribute helped attract 28.5 million viewers. Although online viewers, streaming 7.5 million times, saw an increase of 40 percent, it remains significantly dwarfed by the Daddy or all award shows, the Oscars, which pulled in 43 million last year.

Concerns the Grammys could be falling behind are reasonably well founded, particularly when you look at further evidence.

The most tweeted incident of the ceremony by Grammy viewers was down to that often outspoken guy Kanye West. Mr West was unimpressed by Beck winning album of the year for his eighth collection, Morning Phase, and stormed the stage to protest at Beyonce’s loss. Then he appeared to lose his courage and back down, deciding to return to his seat rather than take the microphone.

This arguable non-event attracted 13.4 million comments on Twitter.

That it was such a Twitter talking point for Grammy viewers, despite nothing really happening, reflects a generally underwhelming response.

Overall reception to the award show was muted. It was said to be low on spectacle, with most artists presenting low key performances concentrating on slow numbers. Except for Madonna. She merely elected to play matador to a stage of dancers wearing diamante-encrusted minotaur masks, maybe giving Grammy viewers some hope.

In the Los Angeles Times Mikael Wood asked a few questions.

“Whatever happened to the splashy awards-show production number? Apart from a few exceptions, the 57th Grammys felt defined by rawer, less elaborately conceived moments. Performers wanted to offer something of themselves to viewers.”

This was the general tone of critical response, and perhaps The Grammys is getting predictable, and it was already getting predictable before Sunday night. That’s why a good few million viewers decided to pass and find something else to do or watch.

Danielle Belton commented on NBC News.

“Maybe it was fun for those who took home trophies, but for us playing at home, the Grammys were slow, slow, slow,”

And the Washington Post‘s Chris Richards concurred.

“Too many of the evening’s nearly two dozen performances felt leaden, maudlin or both. Younger artists tried to sound old while older artists struggled to sound young. [Sam Smith] seemed to be bending the entire vibe of the show toward the austere, melancholy mood of his music.”

Were there many people performing or winning awards at The Grammys with whom the public television audience could identify, cling onto as being “one of us”? Or has the whole thing become a more artificial, alienating parade of wealth and aspiration?

At least Taylor Swift had fun meeting Madonna. We can all take comfort in that.

It could be that the broadly agreed absence of big show spectacle is equally responsible for an identity crisis in modern pop music. Either way, the public viewers seemed to call it in advance; or a few million of them did anyway.

Whether or not it’s just a blip that can easily be turned around is unclear, but this year’s reduced public interest in the Grammy Awards is clearly reflected in the falling numbers of television viewers.

[Image – Reuters]