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We are deep into the Awards Season – so what does it mean for sports fans?

By Brad Rees, CEO, Mediacells

We are now deep into the awards season with the Golden Globes, BAFTAs, Grammy’s all showing strong audience growth signals, while the Brits, Oscars and MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs) will soon contribute to the ‘viewers flock back to live award shows’ narrative.

Or not.

Audiences are fickle when it comes to awards ceremonies – with the stories behind the most recent like-for-like telecast data for music, media and sports extravaganzas corroborating this.

Take the Golden Globes as a bellwether. Viewership for the US film and TV awards rose 50% from last year, averaging 9.4 million live viewers on CBS, according to Nielsen.

Why the uptick? The show switched networks after last year’s lack of diversity and, according to Hollywood reporters, the new owners have made sweeping reforms to address last year’s equalities scandal and subsequent poor ratings.

The new and inclusive show content has definitely attracted an A-list crowd and smart scheduling meant that the GGs followed a big NFL game that took place on a Sunday, typically the highest-rated night of the week compared to last year’s Tuesday show.

Perhaps the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year award (SPOTY) would be advised to think more like the GGs.

Amazing England goalkeeper Mary Earps collected the 2023 SPOTY but was trumped for ratings by long-running, rural soap opera, Emmerdale, raising concerns about the wisdom of airing the seminal UK sports awards on a Tuesday night.

Still with sport, 1.5 million sports fans watched the live broadcast of the prestigious Ballon d’Or awards in 2023, down from the 2022 edition which attracted two million fans.

Audiences are fickle and the explanation for the slump may be no more sinister than the fact that a Frenchman, Karim Benzema, won it the year before and that it was broadcast on the L’Equipe TV channel, 21st in France in terms of ratings.

From this year the Ballon d’Or will be co-organised by European governing body UEFA with the aim of enhancing the ceremony’s profile and global reach, so let’s not write-off the Sports Award genre just yet.