​Ahh red carpet season. Most of us can't help but get sucked in, at least a little bit. It's televised entertainment's package deal after all: celebrities, fashion, interviews, performances, and of course, those 'must watch' moments.  The ones that live television was arguably made for, that everyone gushes about the next day.

They frequently occur during major winner announcements, and are characterized as unpredictable and unprecedented: Kanye West interrupting Taylor Swift's win, saying Beyoncé should have won, Sacheen Littlefeather declining Marlon Brando's Best Actor award on his behalf to protest the treatment of indigenous people by the film industry. And let's not forget that time Billy Joel stopped mid-song to protest Frank Sinatra getting cut off. People tend to remember fireworks and controversy. 

Unless you've been living under a rock, you've heard all about the Academy Awards' La La Land/Moonlight Best Picture blunder. Not to mention the Grammys, during which Adele swore mid-performance and professed that fellow contender Beyoncé's album Lemonade deserved the win in her acceptance speech. The question is, with the YouTube clips all but guaranteed to be available the following day, are audiences watching the moments happen as they happen?  

Compared to the entire program's average audience per minute, Canadian viewership for the 89th Academy Awards dropped by 7 per cent over last half hour, during which Best Actor, Actress and Picture were announced. In fact, the highest rated 5 consecutive minutes of the program, which drew over 6.8 million viewers occurred fifteen minutes into the program at 8:45. The average audience per minute for the show had 150,000 more viewers compared to 2016, and almost 300,000 more compared to 2015. However it was over half a million fewer than 2014; the night of host Ellen DeGeneres' famous Oscar selfie, which broke records on Twitter.  Overall, reach and live viewership stayed fairly consistent. The average viewer watched almost 45 per cent of the 2017 show, and over 30 per cent of people who watched the 2017 event had watched the 2016 show, while over 50 per cent had watched in 2015.

Similar to the Academy Awards, the Grammy's Album of the Year award is reserved for the end of the event. During the 59th Grammy Awards, the average audience per minute dropped by 17 per cent during the show's last half hour. However, the highest rated 5 minutes of the program was at the cusp of 11 pm, roughly when Adele won 'Song of The Year.'  The 2017 show's average audience per minute was larger than 2016's by about 100,000 viewers, but less than 2015's by nearly 300,000. Both total audience reach and live viewing had declined by roughly 5 percent since 2014 and the average viewer watched almost 35 per cent of the 2017 show. Almost 30 per cent of people who watched the 2017 Grammy Awards had watched the 2016 show, while 40 per cent had watched the 2015 show.

Overall, award show viewership was up this year compared to last, live viewership had dipped, but not dramatically, and viewers seemed more likely to tune in casually, than tough it out for three and half hours. At the same time, evidence of sustained viewer engagement worldwide is still in play. The Moonlight/La La Land mix up was reportedly the most discussed Oscar moment on Facebook and Twitter globally. From the Pre-Show to the end, the 2017 Grammy's garnered almost 5 million social media mentions. However, Beyoncé's performance caused the largest social spikes, while Adele's award speech was second.

This year's nominees for most influential media platform: television, radio, streaming, and social media. The winner is, of course, not the point. The evidence that audiences are fragmenting and continuing to use more than one medium keep on changing the contents of the ballet box.        

Summary:

  • Average audience per minute for the 2017 Oscars had 150,000 more viewers compared to 2016, and almost 300,000 more compared to 2015
  • Average audience per minute for the 2017 Grammy Awards had approximately 100,000 more viewers compared to 2016
  • 30-35 per cent of 2017 Grammy and Oscar viewer also watched the 2016 show
  • Viewers watched 35-45 per cent of the 2017 Grammys and Oscars on average  
  • Both programs showed only a slight decline in total reach and live viewership

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