Billboard Music Awards Crash to New Ratings Lows in 2021

by Suzanne Halliburton

The Billboard Music Awards, like every other awards program this season, saw its ratings plummet.

So, is it the content or are Americans growing tired of these sorts of trophy presentations? The Billboard Music Awards drew an audience of only 2.8 million. That was a record low. The show on NBC lost going head-to-head with American Idol, the singing reality competition. And audiences preferred the singers who have yet to hit it big. American Idol drew 6.5 million, so more than doubling the Billboard Music Awards.

Last year’s Billboard show was pushed back to October because of the Covid-19 pandemic. And it saw its audience drop to 3.6 million.

The Weeknd, who performed at this year’s Super Bowl, earned 10 Billboard Music Awards. He also was named top artist, making him the big winner of the evening. Taylor Swift won best female artist and for Billboard Top 200, while BTS earned best group/duo.

Country Winners Included Morgan Wallen, Gabby Barrett

Morgen Wallen won Top Country Male Artist, Top Country Artist and Top Country Album for Dangerous. The other nominees for Top Country Artist were Luke Combs, Chris Stapleton, Kane Brown, Sam Hunt and Gabby Barrett.

Gabby Barrett was the Billboard Music Awards winner for Top Female Country Artist. The other finalists were Maren Morris and Carrie Underwood.

Meanwhile, Florida Georgia Line picked up the trophy for Top Country Duo or Group. The group was up against Dan + Shae and Maddie and Tae. Florida Georgia Line tweeted: “So grateful to take home Top Country Duo/Group at the @BBMAs! Can’t wait to watch the show tonight.”

Carrie Underwood collected the Billboard Music Award for Best Christian Album.

Other awards shows have suffered significant audience declines, so Billboard Music Awards was hardly alone. The Grammys, which was in March, dropped to a record low of 8.8 million viewers. That was down more than half from last year.

In late April, only 10.4 million watched the Academy Awards. That was an audience drop of 56 percent. The Emmy Awards, which were telecast last September, experienced an all-time low audience of 5.1 million.

Like Billboard, the Academy of Country Music Awards recorded an all-time low, too, with just over 6 million viewers. The Country Music Awards also tumbled to a new audience low with 7.1 million viewers. That was a drop of 30 percent.

Maybe it’s the saturation of awards shows throughout the year. Maybe the market is too diluted. Or maybe the audience drops are because of the Covid-19 pandemic and performance limits on the shows. We’ll know next year if this is a trend or a blip.