Entertainment awards ceremonies have traditionally received robust TV ratings because America loves a celebrity gala and all the trappings that come with it, including the fashion statements. The pop music industry’s 60th annual Grammy Awards telecast by CBS on Sunday night might have sounded a sour note, however, as ratings crashed by 24 percent year-over-year. Total viewership was 19.8 million, the New York Times reported.
Making matters worse, the “politics drenched” Grammys from Madison Square Garden in New York City also clocked in with a 5.9 rating in the advertiser-coveted 18-49 age cohort, also down 24 percent from 2017, an all-time low, Deadline Hollywood explained, while adding that it was nonetheless the most-watched entertainment program in prime time since the 2017 Academy Awards (the Oscars).
Included among the musical festivities, the performers addressed immigration, the #MeToo movement, and Hillary Clinton appeared in a cameo to read a selection from Michael Wolff’s disputed Trump tell-all, Fire and Fury. Other celebrities also participated in the Wolff sketch that was a satirical audition for the job as the book’s narrator. Ironically, perhaps, against this backdrop, news emerged last week that Hillary Clinton refused to fire a 2008 campaign adviser accused of sexual harassment.
Moreover, Alessia Cara was the only female solo artist to be honored by the Recording Academy with a Grammy on Sunday night, which prompted the hashtag #GrammysSoMale to trend on Twitter, and the Los Angeles Times to quip that maybe it’s “times up” for the music industry.
According to some media industry analysts, viewers voting with their TV remote device might be sending a message to the Grammys, as a portion of the audience has done with the NFL and ESPN, and other awards shows that have become platforms for anti-Trump activism: That is, people at home just want an escape from politics and other day-to-day concerns and simply prefer to relax on the couch and be entertained. Consumers gravitating to many other available forms of content may also explain the ratings shortfall across the board.
Along these lines, Nikki Haley tweeted out a message that the Grammys should have steered clear of the Wolff book and stuck to music, and New York Times opinion writer Bari Weiss subsequently wrote that the United Nations Ambassador had good reason to do so because of the author’s lurid insinuations about her alleged relationship with President Trump.
Weiss claimed that liberal Hollywood couldn’t hold to a double standard, especially in the #MeToo environment, stating, “that it would never accept for a moment if the woman in question was a Kirsten Gillibrand or a Kamala Harris.”
Grammys host James Corden, as well as Stephen Colbert and Trevor Noah, among others, fired back at Haley that politics and music have always been connected.
The Oscar Awards are scheduled for March 4, and the media industry will undoubtedly be closely watching to see if the ratings will fall off to the extent that they have with the 2018 Grammy Awards.