Number Crunch

The Award for Historic Ratings Flop Goes to… the Golden Globes

Celebrity shenanigans just aren’t the same on Zoom

62%: That was the drop in Golden Globes viewers on Sunday compared to last year, according to Nielsen ratings reported on by the New York Times.

Throughout the pandemic, we’ve seen ratings drop for live TV events like the presidential debates (the first one was down 13% compared to the first Clinton-Trump debate four years prior) and the Super Bowl (down 15% in 2021 compared to 2020). But last Sunday’s Golden Globes, which pulled in only 6.9 million viewers, saw a far steeper plunge, pulling in less than half its 2020 audience and its smallest audience since the TV and film awards show launched in 1996. Compare that to the Saturday Night Live episode immediately following the election in November that had 9.1 million viewers or the video game Fortnite’s live event in June that had an audience of 20 million.

The Golden Globes’ unprecedented blunder might be explained by the show’s unique appeal over the Oscars and Emmys, which relies heavily on in-person shenanigans. Besides the usual fashion commentary and red carpet interviews that mark these events, celebs attending the Golden Globes also party throughout the show, with snippets of their banter caught on camera and many of them famously ending up sloshed during acceptances speeches, reaction shots, and digs from the hosts. Unable to recreate those moments over the awkward remote video feeds set up in celebrities’ homes, this year’s Globes ended up feeling more like a drawn-out Zoom mashup than a piece of entertainment.

What’s more, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association — the entity behind the Golden Globes — has come under fire for its racial inequity, with no Black journalists in its 87 member group. Hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler mocked this news during the event: “The Hollywood Foreign Press Association is made up of around 90 international no-Black journalists,” Fey said during the opening monologue, reverting to the clichéd awards show defense mechanism of turning its real-world disparity into a forgettable laugh line. For a show already struggling to adapt to the moment, its decision to make yet another weak-kneed, self-referential quip about racial controversy was early evidence of a night’s worth of stagnation.

Thankfully, this year’s Oscars will go by much faster with only two-and-a-half new movies to consider for awards.

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