Numbers Don’t Lie, Billboard: Entertainers Politick, Award Shows Tank

Hate to say we told ya so … no, actually it’s kind of fun to say we told you so. According to Variety, the May 20 Billboard Music Awards earned a “2.4 rating in adults 18-49.” It suffered “a decrease of approximately 8% in the demo and 9% in total viewers compared to the 2017 ceremony.” And the 2017 Awards show was a new low.

How can this be? Pop music is no worse than it’s ever been. There were performances by pop royalty. Technology is fostering ever slicker show productions.

It may be a head-scratcher to Billboard and Variety, but not to NewsBusters. We reported in March on the results of a McLaughlin & Associates/Media Research Center national poll of 1,000 likely voters on the intrusion of politics into entertainment. A quick rundown of key results:

75% agree with the statement, "When I watch live sports or entertainment shows on television I am trying to get away from politics and do not want to be bombarded with partisan political messages."

44% said they have been less likely to watch live sports and entertainment shows because they have become too political.

Among people who didn't watch the Oscars this year, the top reason cited for not watching was that they were "tired of these shows being full of political statements."

About half (47%) of the respondents who did NOT watch the Oscars this year said their reason for not watching the show was EITHER "I'm tired of these shows being full of political statements" or "I would have watched but knew some of the presenters and winners would use the time to share their political agenda."

So it’s a pretty good chance Billboard’s numbers were down again because people know they’re going to be bombarded with celebrity political opinion. And sure enough, gun control took center stage for part of Sunday’s ceremony. There was also someone named Luis Fonsi who, in accepting an award said, “This one goes out to all my Latino brothers. All my immigrants,” he said. “All my dreamers.”

Admittedly, that’s pretty tame stuff compared the Streep Screeching, Oprahfying and inclusiveness clausing of other events. But people decide to watch -- or not -- in advance. Given the choice between sitting through pop tarts lecturing about immigration policy and a good book, the numbers say the book wins.

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