‘And the loser is …’: Are music awards shows in crisis?
With plummeting ratings and accusations of racial and gender bias, the Brits and Grammys are facing a battle to stay relevant
Once upon a time, the Brit awards and the Grammys were an annual staple in the TV calendar of even the most casual music fan. Drawing millions of viewers, the ceremonies offered a feast of entertainment, ranging from the unpredictable to the spectacular. Think Chumbawamba chucking a bucket of ice water over John Prescott at the 1998 Brits or Lady Gaga emerging from an egg at the Grammys in 2011. More recently, Brits sets by Stormzy and Dave have marked an important shift in mainstream recognition of Black British talent.
For audiences, however, the shine seems to have worn off. Last year’s ITV broadcast of the Brits, which was postponed from February to May due to Covid-19, recorded 2.9 million viewers – a figure that plunged for the fourth year running. The 2021 Grammys were the lowest rated in history, delivering an audience of just 8.8 million viewers for CBS, down a staggering 53% on the year prior. (These declines aren’t exclusive to music award ceremonies: the Oscars also recorded a 58.3% dip in viewers last year.)
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