CMA Awards co-hosts Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood’s decision to keep politics out of the show Wednesday night seemingly backfired. Despite announcing the sex of Underwood’s second child and featuring performances from the biggest stars in the genre, the country music award show was down 30 percent from last year’s event.
The 52nd annual CMA Awards attracted 10.1 million viewers, the lowest-rated broadcast ever, according to Hollywood trade publication Deadline.
“This is the latest in a long line of live programming that has suffered serious ratings erosion over the years. Back in September, for example, the 2018 Emmy Awards hit a new viewership low as well, clocking in with just 10.2 million viewers,” Variety ratings guru Joe Otterson wrote.
Deadline noted that the CMAs dropped a whopping 34 percent in the key demographic and lost 30 percent of total viewers compared to the 2017 version of the show. Even with the record low viewership, the three-hour telecast still landed ABC its best non-sports performance on a particular night in over a year.
But even though the night was politics-free, some experts think the political bent of similar events still hurt the CMAs.
Media Research Center Vice President Dan Gainor told Fox News that events like the Oscars and Emmys set a precedent that the CMAs couldn’t overcome.
“The CMAs are victims of how politicized award shows have become. It doesn’t matter that it wasn’t political. How are viewers supposed to know that ahead of time when every other award show is a parade of lefty loons?”
“The CMAs are victims of how politicized award shows have become. It doesn’t matter that it wasn’t political,” Gainor said. “How are viewers supposed to know that ahead of time when every other award show is a parade of lefty loons?”
The Emmys were overtly political from the start, with hosts Colin Jost and Michael Che joking about a wide range of topics such as Nazis, white nationalists, racism and award winners urging the crowd to vote in the midterm elections.
Back in March, the politically charged 2018 Oscars dropped 20 percent compared to the 2017 numbers, averaging 26.5 million viewers. It’s the first time that the Oscars averaged fewer than 30 million people since at least 1974 when Nielsen started keeping track. Many critics blamed the “divisive, left-wing politics” throughout the four-hour event for the dismal rating – but the CMA Awards can’t make the same excuse.
Co-hosts Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood had promised the show wouldn’t be loaded with polarizing politics and the country superstars kept their word. Politics was not a topic of discussion when the biggest names in the genre took the stage during Wednesday night’s show at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena.
MRCTV blog editor Craig Bannister echoed Gainor and feels that “propaganda-filled shows” have “soured viewers,” pointing to a study that indicated 43 percent of respondents are “less likely to watch” events such as awards shows “because they’ve gotten too political.” Bannister noted that 74 percent of respondents tune in to award shows “to get away from politics and do not want to be bombarded with partisan political messages.”
The CMAs featured Keith Urban picking up the Entertainer of the Year award, a somber note with Garth Brooks leading a moment of silence for the 12 people who were killed at a Southern California country bar last week and a memorable Luke Bryan performance of “What Makes You Country.”
Fox News’ Sasha Savitsky contributed to this report.