Why the NFL May Undermine the Golden Globes’ Future on NBC

As the HFPA has struggled in the ratings and within Hollywood, pro football has taken over the awards’ usual broadcast spot in early January

NFL Golden Globes
As the Golden Globes have struggled, the NFL has only gotten stronger

The NFL may become a road block for the future of NBC’s broadcast relationship with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s Golden Globes.

The anemic ratings for last week’s broadcast of the Golden Globes have darkened the awards show’s already bleak future, as NBC must decide whether to renew its contract with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association to broadcast the ceremony.

NBC’s Tuesday, Jan. 10 primetime showing of the awards ceremony drew in 6.3 million viewers on average and earned a 1.1 ratings score in the 18-49 demo, according to Nielsen data — with ratings 26% down from the 2021 ceremony and viewership down 9% from 2021’s 6.9 million viewers.

But along with the plummeting viewership and the scandals the HFPA has tried to escape over the past two years, there’s another snag is the growing presence of the National Football League. With its recent expansion to its playoff structure, that could leave the Globes exiled from its former slot on primetime Sunday television unless changes to the awards calendar are made.

The NFL has already bumped the Globes to a less prestigious night

As the HFPA has fought to keep the Golden Globes going amidst a 2021 Los Angeles Times expose of its internal operations, finances and the total absence of Black members that led Hollywood protesting and to NBC pulling out of airing last year’s awards ceremony, the NFL has expanded the number of playoff teams from 12 to 14 and the number of games played in the first round of the playoffs from four to six.

Under the old NFL season structure prior to the pandemic, it was possible for the Golden Globes and the playoffs to co-exist on a Sunday in early January. The Globes would air on the same weekend as the first or second round of the playoffs, with the football games airing on CBS and Fox during the day and leaving primetime free for the Globes on NBC.

This year was much different. Six playoff games aired the weekend of Jan. 7 and 8, with NBC broadcasting two of them in primetime, leaving the Golden Globes without an early January Sunday to air on. Even if the playoff expansion hadn’t happened, the Critics Choice Awards returned to its usual spot in mid-January, leaving the Globes with no January weekend spots.

Thus the Globes were bumped to a Tuesday night primetime slot as NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” aired the NFL regular season finale between the Detroit Lions and the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, Jan. 8. With the game determining whether the Packers would qualify for the playoffs, it scored 23.9 million viewers, the highest for a “Sunday Night Football” finale in six years.

NFL games just make better business sense than the awards

This past Sunday’s wild card playoff game between the Cincinnati Bengals and Baltimore Ravens scored slightly lower but similarly strong ratings with an average of 21.2 million viewers.

Not only did both games post an average more than triple the 6.9 million total of the 2021 Golden Globes, which was held with no audience in February due to the pandemic, they also topped the 18.4 million total of the 2020 Globes, the last edition of the show held on its traditional date with Ricky Gervais hosting.

With awards shows in general and the scandal-ridden Globes in particular seeing their public interest sink fast, there’s no reason why NBC wouldn’t prioritize taking advantage of the additional NFL playoff games over finding a weekend spot for the Globes. But the question moving forward, assuming NBC renews its deal with the HFPA, is how the ceremony will be scheduled moving forward and whether the rest of the awards calendar will have to change as a consequence.

But NBC isn’t the HFPA’s only option

Spokespersons for NBC and the HFPA declined to comment for this story and couldn’t provide a timetable on when a decision for broadcast renewal might be reached, but it’s one decision among many being made in the changing awards season landscape. The Critics Choice Awards aired on The CW with a west coast tape delay and Netflix will begin streaming the SAG Awards in 2024, signaling interest among the streamers for more live programming.

The options are open for HFPA, either on another broadcast network, cable or at a streaming service. Even with the sagging ratings, awards shows can provide an edge in a competitive market. But those awards shows have always had to settle for whatever timeslots haven’t been claimed by the NFL, and that league’s territory is now bigger than ever.

Loree Seitz contributed to this report