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The award shows are on life support.

Viewership for Sunday’s 63rd annual Grammy Awards fell 53 percent from last year, to 8.8 million viewers, CBS said Monday. The record-low showing comes on the heels of the Golden Globes’ dismal 60 percent drop, to 6.9 million viewers.

While this year’s cataclysmic falloffs are due at least in part to the pandemic, television executives and industry insiders have said they also reflect an acceleration in the longstanding ratings declines that have afflicted the awards shows specifically and linear television generally.

While most observers expect higher audiences for future award ceremonies, many question whether the shows will ever be able to retain pre-pandemic numbers.

The decline in ratings may also be somewhat attributable to the quality of the shows themselves. On average, more than 10 million people watch “The Masked Singer,” a show on Fox where minor celebrities are hidden behind masks. The Grammys, which feature major celebrities who can be seen, now draws a smaller audience.

The abysmal numbers have set off alarm bells for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science (which awards the Oscars) and ABC, which will host this year’s event on April 25. That show will face the added challenge of celebrating film in a year in which the vast majority of productions were halted and most theaters were closed.

The previous Grammys ceremony, which took place in January 2020, drew 18.7 million viewers. That was down from 19.9 million the year before and from an all-time high of 39.9 million in 2012. (Before Sunday’s show,  the lowest turnout was 17 million in 2006).

The 8.8 million who tuned in for this year’s Grammys included viewers who watched the linear broadcast as well as those who livestreamed it via CBS.com, the CBS app or Paramount+, the company’s new streaming app.

Image: Dylan ByersDylan Byers

Dylan Byers is a senior media reporter for NBC News based in Los Angeles.

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