Opinion: Yes, Award Shows Are Fun, But They’re Quickly Losing Relevance

Hollywood struggles to keep up with the modern era

Sophomore+Minna+Lamprecht+watches+this+year%E2%80%99s+Grammy+Awards.+The+Grammys+hit+a+record+low+of+viewers+this+year+and%2C+like+other+major+award+shows%2C+are+not+expected+to+go+up+in+popularity+anytime+soon.

Photo by Lucy Gomez

Sophomore Minna Lamprecht watches this year’s Grammy Awards. The Grammys hit a record low of viewers this year and, like other major award shows, are not expected to go up in popularity anytime soon.

Award shows were once a television highlight, showcasing the biggest names in Hollywood dressed head to toe in designer brands accepting awards for achievements in music, movies and television, drawing millions of Americans to their TVs to see how the star-studded night would turn out.

The scene couldn’t look more different today. This year’s Grammy Awards hit a record low of 8.8 million viewers, a 53% decline from last year’s 18.7 million viewers, while the Golden Globes also experienced a startling drop in viewership with only 6.9 million people tuning in this year. This year’s Oscars aren’t expected to do much better either. 

It’s easy for one to look at these numbers and assume the reason why they’re so low is that people grew bored of seeing a talk show host hand out golden statues. While there is some truth to this assumption, there’s far more to it. In order to obtain the full answer, one must look back on the history of award shows and their rise in popularity. 

The first recorded award show was, unsurprisingly, the Oscars. It was held in 1929 and lasted only 15 minutes with the winners listed in the newspaper the next day. Following its success, the Academy Awards became an annual televised event that allowed Americans a glimpse into the glamorous world of Hollywood.

Before social media consumed the majority of people’s lives, they had no way of knowing what went on in the lives of celebrities. The closest they could get to a star was by watching them on the silver screen. With the arrival of award shows, people were given a rare taste of the glitz and glamour of the movie industry. 

Today, celebrities are practically everywhere. It doesn’t take much effort to come across an overabundance of gossip, news articles and social media posts about any and every film or music star there is. TV networks can’t capitalize on packing the biggest stars into one ballroom anymore. 

The concept is not only mundane, but pointless. There’s no reason to watch an award show solely for the sake of seeing a celebrity when we can look into their day-to-day life 24/7, seven days a week. 

Award shows are also failing to connect with audiences. People don’t need the number of accolades a film or song gets to dictate whether or not they will enjoy it. As Toronto film critic Sarah-Tai Black put it, viewers are watching the shows predominantly for the performances while being subconsciously aware the awards don’t mean much. 

Additionally, award shows are moving away from nominating what people are watching and listening to. In the case of the Golden Globes, audiences were shocked and disappointed by the lack of nominations for the HBO Max series, “I May Destroy You”, a series that not only garnered widespread acclaim but had 10.5 times the demand of the average TV series in the U.S.

There was no shortage of snubs for the Grammys either, the most notable being the failure to nominate The Weeknd despite his latest album, “After Hours”, having 221 million streams and selling 275,000 copies as a full album. 

Lastly, and perhaps the biggest reason award shows are meeting their demise is the changing demographic. With an excess of streaming and social media platforms, cable TV isn’t as appealing as it was 30 years ago and certainly isn’t appealing to the younger generation. Variety stated the average age of viewers for the four major award programs-the Oscars, Golden Globes, Emmys and Grammys-was now past 50. By contrast, 20 years ago the average age of an Oscar viewer was below 40. 

I’m not suggesting award shows are in danger of being canceled completely, but if they continue on the path they’re on without any changes being made, their future will look bleak. It’s going to take more than a couple of skits and clumsy jokes to restore award shows to the entertainment experience they once were.