On a Night of Protest, Golden Globes Ratings Slip

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Oprah Winfrey delivers a serious address as she accepts the Cecil B. Demille Award at the 75th Annual Golden Globe Awards on Sunday.
Oprah Winfrey delivers a serious address as she accepts the Cecil B. Demille Award at the 75th Annual Golden Globe Awards on Sunday. Credit: Paul Drinkwater/NBC

Whether the coordinated protests against institutionalized sexual harassment resonated remains to be seen, but NBC's broadcast of the Golden Globes Awards drew its usual out-sized audience.

According to Nielsen fast official ratings, the 75th installment of the Golden Globes averaged 19 million viewers and a 5.0 rating, which works out to some 6.45 million adults 18 to 49 years old. And while that marked a 5 percent decline in total deliveries when compared to last year's 20 million viewers and a 10 percent drop-off versus the 7.19 million members of NBC's target demo who tuned in to the 2017 show, Sunday night's gala now stands as the broadcast TV season's most-watched, highest-rated non-sports program.

The overall reach of the Golden Globes has remained remarkably consistent—over the past five years, NBC's presentation of the event has averaged 19.5 million viewers—and the demos are holding up nearly as well, or at least when you compare them to TV's other top-rated awards spectacles. Since 2014, the Globes has frittered away 14 percent of its deliveries of adults 18 to 49. But in the same span the Grammy Awards are down 21 percent in the demo and the Academy Awards have plummeted 31 percent.

Note that in the case of the Oscars, Nielsen ratings are largely tracked for the purposes of setting ad prices for future broadcasts. As is the case with the Super Bowl on CBS/NBC/Fox, ABC does not offer ratings guarantees for advertisers who buy inventory in the Academy Awards.

If advertisers perhaps did not find the Hollywood Foreign Press Association's Globes picks to be entirely relevant to their own interests—NBC's "This Is Us" and FX's "Fargo" were the only ad-supported series to walk away with one of the major TV awards—the ceremony was memorable for the launch of the "Time's Up" movement, an initiative designed to uproot Hollywood's culture of harassment by way of attacking the industry's systemic gender-inequality issues.

"Time's Up" turned the Red Carpet into a veritable river of ink, as hundreds of actresses wore black to show their solidarity with the movement. But all the dark-hued couture aside, it was Oprah Winfrey's nine-minute speech that had onlookers at the Beverly Hilton, and much of the TV audience, agog.

In the course of accepting the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award, Oprah gave an eloquent and impassioned speech about the importance of representation, an address that ended with a call for all the girls and young women watching at home to tell their own stories and pitch their own battles against inequality. The speech was perhaps one of the most sober moments in the recent history of the bubbly, bibulous awards show, which has long been informed by an atmosphere of light-hearted, often glib booziness.

(Speaking of booze, seemingly half of those following along on Twitter immediately suggested that Oprah run for president in 2020, because clearly the path to salvation lies in a billionaire TV personality with zero in the way of political experience.)

While Democrats and other people who should know better were busy tweeting out improbable presidential tickets, model Chrissy Teigen blew off the show and instead popped up in a McDonald's ad. Among the other more visible advertisers in the Globes broadcast were L'Oreal Paris, Verizon, Discover Card, Amazon Echo, Volkswagen and Warner Bros.

Awards season continues apace with CBS's presentation of the 60th Annual Grammy Awards on Sunday, Jan. 28, and ABC's broadcast of the 90th Academy Awards on Sunday, March 4. Despite a recent string of ratings declines, the latter program remains one of TV's top 10 most-watched broadcasts, while the Grammys are always the second-biggest draw among all televised awards shows.

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