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The Business of Award Shows: The Oscars, Grammys, and More

February 18, 2019
award shows

2 min read

For millions of people, sitting down to watch award shows—such as the Oscars, Grammys, or Emmys—is an annual tradition. These once-per-year events showcase the best of the best in entertainment, and are generally packed with laughs and live performances.

Award shows are supposed to be fun, funny, and above all, entertaining. But behind all the glitz and glitter is a year’s worth of planning and effort to pull the whole thing off. In fact, award shows are an industry in and of themselves.

Award shows: all business

Aside from honoring artists’ performances and serving as a highlight reel for different areas of the entertainment industry, award shows act as an important promotional tool.

For example, millions of people flock to theaters to see the nominees for Best Picture, and millions more tune in to watch the television shows with the most Emmy nominations. The same goes for other areas of the entertainment industry, including music and Broadway Theatre.

So, in short, entertainment execs hope that recognition at award shows (and winning, of course) spurs sales, increases viewership, and puts butts in seats at theaters. This is sometimes referred to as an award show “bump”.

The award show “bump”

Movies, musicians, and TV shows sometimes get an “award bump” after their work has been featured on an award show. For example, between 1990 and 2009, films nominated for Best Picture during the Oscars generated an additional $14 million at the box office, though that trend has slowed in recent years. For example, “Moonlight,” which won Best Picture in 2017, saw a bump of $2.5 million following a post-Oscars release in theaters.

Streaming companies can see another kind of “bump”: In 2018, Netflix saw its stock price increase nearly 5% after its original TV shows won a record 23 Emmy awards.

How it all stacks up

There are dozens of annual award shows in the entertainment industry these days, including the Tonys, Teen Choice Awards, Country Music Awards, VMAs, ESPYs, and more. But some are considered more prestigious than others, such as the Oscars (movies), Emmys (television), Grammys (music). Here are how those shows stack up, and how much money they tend to generate for their respective industries.

The Oscars

The Oscars, or the Academy Awards, are held by every February by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and focus on the film industry.

Viewership: 26.5 million (2018).

Advertising revenue: $128 million (2017).

Cost to produce the ceremony: $44 million (2018).

Fun fact: Oscar statuettes are made of gold-plated bronze. But during World War II, winners received plaster trophies that were painted gold.

The Emmys

The Emmys celebrate achievement in television, and are presented by three organizations: The Television Academy (primetime), the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (daytime, sports, news and documentary), and the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (international).

Viewership: 10.2 million (2019)

Advertising revenue: $35 million, estimated (2017).

Cost to promote a show: Some networks spend $60-$80 million on Emmy campaigns.

Fun fact: An Emmy statue costs $400.

The Grammys

The Grammys are all about music, and is held every year by The Recording Academy.

Viewership: 19.9 million (2019).

Advertising revenue: $90 million (2019).

Cost to produce the ceremony: Exact figures are unknown, but the 2018 show reportedly went over budget by as much as $8 million.

Fun fact: Each Grammy is made of “Grammium” (a zinc alloy) and requires 15 hours to make.

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By Sam Becker

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