2021 American Music Awards Improve in TV Ratings, But Far Cry From Pre-2020 Numbers

by Liz Holland
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The 2021 American Music Awards aired on ABC’s network Sunday night, with current TV ratings reporting an average of 3.8 million viewers and a 1.0 rating.

Although these numbers demonstrate an improvement from last year’s initial numbers, numbers for this year fall still fall short compared to the program’s pre-pandemic ratings. To clarify, ratings for the awards show in 2020 plummeted over 50% from 2019, per TVLine.

2021 American Music Awards notable performances

This year’s AMA’s featured performances from pop-culture icons including Olivia Rodrigo, Jennifer Lopez, Carrie Underwood and Jason Aldean, BTS, New Kids on the Block, and more. Social media trends suggest performances from South Korean boyband BTS attracted the most buzz.

A tweet from The American Music Awards account about the performance garnered 224.2k likes at the time of writing. Additionally, tweets from the BTS artist account about the awards show earned 1.9 million likes at the time of writing.

Even with international artists on their performance roster, ratings demonstrate that the awards show still struggled to keep consistent viewership numbers throughout the duration of their air-time compared to previous years. 

AMAs Ratings Have Struggled in the Past

2021 is not the first year that the AMAs ratings have suffered when compared to prior years. As more adults move their sights to other viewership options and streaming services, numbers show a semi-consistent decline over the years for real-time TV viewership.

For example, In 2019, the program attracted 6.7 million viewers, which was a 2% increase from viewership numbers in 2018. By comparison, this number showed a nearly 30% decrease from the program’s 9.15 million viewers in 2017. 

Competing with Sunday Night Football

Since the American Music Awards time slot has moved around throughout its history, airing during a Sunday evening meant competing for viewership with NBC’s Sunday night football program. Sunday Night Football attracted 11.9 million viewers and a 3.0 rating this week. 

The last time the American Music Awards aired on a weekday was in 2018. The program averaged a rating of 1.8 in the 18-49 demographic, and a 4.1 household rating. 

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