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Golden Globes Viewership Sinks to 13-Year Low, as Awards Show Loses Two-Thirds of Audience

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  • The 78th Golden Globes captured only 6.9 million viewers, a 63% drop from the 18.4 million who tuned in to 2020's telecast, according to Nielsen data. It had the lowest rating ever in the key demographic of ages 18-49.
  • The last time the ceremony pulled in such tepid overall viewership was in 2008, when the show was morphed into a press conference because of a writers strike.
  • Sunday's broadcast was marred by technical hiccups and overshadowed by scandal, as the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which presents the awards, has been under heavy fire for its lack of Black voters and reports of corruption.

Not even Tina Fey and Amy Poehler could save Sunday's Golden Globes from sour ratings.

On Tuesday, Nielsen data revealed that the 78th annual awards show put on by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association had captured only 6.9 million viewers, a 63% drop from the 18.4 million who tuned in to 2020's telecast.

The last time the ceremony pulled in such tepid overall viewership was in 2008, when the show was morphed into a press conference because of a writers strike. Around 6 million people tuned in to that telecast. The least-watched Globes program was in 1995, with only 3.6 million viewers.

Sunday's broadcast was marred by technical hiccups and overshadowed by scandal, as the HFPA has been under heavy fire for its lack of Black voters and continued reports of internal corruption. Fey, Poehler and a number of award winners used their airtime to lambast the organization, leading to an awkward night of pseudo-celebration.

The ceremony drew a 1.5 rating among adults 18-49, a drastic 68% drop from the prior year's show, which previously held the record for the all-time lowest rating for that key demographic.

Ratings are essentially percentages that measure the portion of a given group watching a given show. For the most part, the ratings are based on the demographic of adults between the ages of 18 and 49. This grouping is what is used to set ad rates for different entertainment programming, so it's the most commonly reported.

With around 120 million homes with TV, a rating of 1.0 is equal to 1% of total households, or 1.2 million. So, with a rating of 1.5, the Golden Globes were watched by around 1.8 million people within that key age group.

NBC, which inked a $60 million-a-year deal with the HFPA in 2018 for exclusive rights to the broadcast for eight years, may be rethinking the ceremony's worth.

While the HFPA used Sunday's show to issue a statement about its plans to include more Black and other minority journalists in its organization in the future, many on social media felt the apology fell flat. The organization is dealing with multiple scandals and its reputation is tarnished in the eyes of Hollywood's elite and audiences around the world.

Still, the ceremony and its awards remain coveted by the film and television industries. Nominations and wins, even from an organization like the HFPA, are still marketing opportunities for studios and celebrities. Note how often the words "Golden Globe winner" or "Golden Globe nominated" are used in trailers and other promotional materials.

Disclosure: NBC and CNBC are owned by Comcast's NBCUniversal unit.

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