It was a historic night for the CMA Awards as they celebrated their 50th Anniversary with a cavalcade of stars both new and old Wednesday evening (11-2), but not even a last-minute addition of pop superstar Beyonce, or an appearance by Taylor Swift handing out the evening’s Entertainer of the Year award could salvage ratings for the show. Unfortunately for the CMA’s an even more historic event—Game 7 of the World Series where the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians both tried to erase record-breaking post-season droughts—took precedence for the majority of television viewers.
The ratings for the CMA Awards fell an abysmal 24% from 2015 in the key demographic of 18 to 19-year-olds to a 2.9/8 share. It was an all-time ratings low for the event, and has to be considered a big disappointment after the Country Music Association expended incredible effort to make the 50th Anniversary show the biggest ever.
But if there was a silver lining, when taking into consideration total viewership beyond the 18 to 49 demographic (meaning many older viewers), the CMA’s only fell 7% compared to 2015. In other words, older viewers tuned in to see some of their favorite stars from the past like Roy Clark, Charley Pride, George Strait, Alan Jackson, and others that the CMA’s booked for the 50th Anniversary show. Ahead of the presentation, and anticipating a dip in numbers due to the World Series, some were worried a ratings slide might be interpreted as a rebuke of the older artists.
Meanwhile World Series Game 7 pulled an incredible 12.2/36 share among adults 18-49, and a total of 39.2 million viewers according to Deadline. That is up a historic 150% since the last Game 7 in 2014. The other major networks announced they had abandoned running new programming on the night, anticipating the big ratings grab by FOX and the World Series.
Ultimately though, it’s hard to blame the CMA’s for the ratings slip. Delaying the CMA’s until the next week would have put them too near the Presidential election, and moving them earlier could be troublesome with the baseball postseason as well. It was just bad timing, and resulted in an unfortunate outcome for both the CMA’s, and the country industry. The numbers also may skew in the CMA’s favor as folks who DVR’d the event watch it over the next week.