On Monday, NBC announced it would not broadcast 2022’s Golden Globe Awards ceremony following months of criticism leveled at the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the organization that hosts the awards, due to the body’s lack of diversity—in February the Los Angeles Times revealed that the organization had no Black members—and questionable ethics—like studios paying for luxury trips to movie sets.
Last week, the HFPA announced broad reforms, but “we feel strongly that the HFPA needs time to do it right,” NBC said in a statement, adding that if the changes are executed, the program would return in 2023.
The decision was perhaps about more than race and ethics—even if those issues were the straw that broke the camel’s back. Like most award ceremonies, the Golden Globes have been experiencing declining interest over the past few years. This year, which has seen awards shows experiencing record-low ratings, only 6.9 million people tuned into the ceremony, down 63% from 2020’s audience of 18.4 million, according to Nielsen data.
As ratings fall, ad dollars will likely follow. According to Kantar Media, the Globes brought in $50.3 million in ad spend this year, with a 30-second spot going for nearly $1 million. It’s hard to justify that amount when ratings aren’t much higher than a good night on broadcast TV: This is Us, for example, draws about 5.5 million viewers each episode, and ads during the show cost an average of $476,352, according to Ad Age.
Those anemic ratings and dwindling ad dollars beg the question: Is the broadcast worth the $60 million NBC pays per year to license the show—especially with controversy involved?
“At what point is it just so profitable that they just take the hit for the association?” asks Zak Shaikh, a vice president at media consultancy Magid.
Clearly, the Globes weren’t at that level of profitability. Justifying a $60 million price tag “will be more challenging for the next round of negotiations,” Shaikh said, though he did add there is still value in live, tentpole events, even if advertising dollars are moving away from broadcast and over to streaming platforms.
It is not clear if NBC, which signed an eight-year deal for the ceremony in 2018, will have to pay up, despite the show not airing.
NBC’s decision not to broadcast the show follows organizations, talent and studios distancing themselves from the HFPA in recent weeks. On Friday, Time’s Up said that the HFPA’s proposed changes were not enough, calling them “window-dressing platitudes,” and a group of more than 100 PR agencies said they would not work with the HFPA until further commitments are made, including a firm time line. That prompted Netflix, Amazon and WarnerMedia to announce that they would no longer work with the HFPA until significant changes are made in both its diversity and ethics rules.
Golden Globe winner Mark Ruffalo, who took home a statuette this year for the limited series I Know This Much Is True, was the first celebrity to speak out against the organization, urging the organization to “right the wrongs of the past.”
“Honestly, as a recent winner of a Golden Globe, I cannot feel proud or happy about being a recipient of this award,” he said in a statement.
Tom Cruise, who has won three Golden Globes for Born on the Fourth of July, Jerry Maguire and Magnolia, announced Monday that he had returned his statuettes, while Golden Globe nominee Scarlett Johansson called on the industry to step back from the organization.
The HFPA responded in a vague statement yesterday, saying “Regardless of the next air date of the Golden Globes, implementing transformational changes as quickly—and as thoughtfully—as possible remains the top priority for our organization.”