Don’t Let Your Music Radio Station Die Like the Grammy Awards
Media Research
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Don’t Let Your Music Radio Station Die Like the Grammy Awards

The 2021 Grammy Awards which aired on March 14th had its lowest ratings ever, down an astonishing 61% over the 2020 telecast with Adults 18-49. 2020s Billboard Music Awards and American Music Awards also hit new rating lows, down 55% and 40% respectively from 2019. 2020 also saw record low audiences for The Academy of Country Music Awards and Country Music Awards.


Are you surprised? These shows are long, boring, predictable, irrelevant and lack FOMO.

And do we really believe the young adults these show’s target are watching broadcast TV?


Here’s 10 reasons why the Music Awards shows are dying:


  1. There’s too many Awards shows. The major televised programs include Grammy’s, Billboard, American Music, iHeartRadio, the ACMs, Country Music Awards and the format and production values are vastly similar.
  2. Interest in Contemporary Music Radio is Down. The Adult Contemporary, Hot AC, Contemporary Hit, Country, Urban and Alternative formats have all lost audience share between 2018 and 2020, according Nielsen PPM radio ratings.
  3. Pop Music isn’t in Vogue. Guy Zapoleon, iconic radio programmer, describes the current state of Pop music the “worst period ever.”
  4. Missing the Hits. The Weeknd’s “Blinding Light” was #1 on Billboard’s year end Hot 100 2020 chart, he performed this year’s Super Bowl halftime show, yet he wasn’t nominated for a single Grammy. And other songs that won big are relatively unknown to the mainstream audience contributing to the irrelevancy of the music and the show.
  5. The Bulk of the Prime-time Network TV audience doesn’t relate to the music. 50+ adults watch the most Network TV. 18-49s are watching less primetime network TV than ever and in 2019 18-34s were streaming nearly as much TV as they watched live or on a DVR.
  6. The shows are too long. Last week’s Grammy’s clocked in at over 3-and-a-half hours.
  7. Too many Ads. The 3-and-a-half-hour Grammy’s show included nearly an hour of advertising.
  8. Too Political. Today’s awards show’s content has become more and more political alienating some viewers.
  9. Television viewing has changed forever. In the late 1970s, the three major networks attracted 95% of the primetime audience. Even the few big television events left like the Super Bowl are losing audience, especially in the coveted 18-49 demo. Streaming, YouTube and binge viewing is how today’s young adults watch TV. Heck, ask a millennial the last time they watched a local channel?
  10. Where’s the FOMO? The MTV Music Awards has a long history of creating moments everyone would be talking about the next day.  Remember the Madonna-Britney Spears Kiss, Lady GaGa’s dress made of meat or Kayne West disrespecting Taylor Swift. These and many other were buzzworthy moments.


There’s an opportunity for one of these music awards shows to completely reinvent and re-imagine how a Music Awards Shows is produced. The Music Awards Show of the future may be delivered on a major streaming platform, on-demand or even in a non-linear way.  The music and the production will speak to the target, the show will be fast moving (it will never be 3-and-a-half hours again) nor will it feature nearly an hour of ads, and the show will be filled with FOMO, fear of missing out moments.


Does your radio station have the courage to reinvent and re-imagine the listener experience, or will it die like the Grammy Awards?


Ken Benson is a multi-award-winning contemporary radio programmer and music television expert having served as VP of Music Programming at MTV. Today, Ken is a co-founder and partner in P1 Media Group, providing insights and strategies to leading media companies around the world. He can be reached at