NBC's telecast of the "74th Annual Golden Globe Awards" scored 20 million viewers on Sunday, a positive sign for the awards show business that has seen ratings slip in recent years.
The 8% increase in viewership for the ceremony emceed by "Tonight" host Jimmy Fallon came after a year when most of the major live awards shows saw declines as they competed with an increasing number of program choices and streaming services. In 2016, the CBS telecast of the Tony Awards — boosted by having featured the Broadway mega hit "Hamilton" — was the only trophy program to see a year-to-year ratings gains.
The Golden Globes saw a historic night with "La La Land" earning a record-setting seven wins including comedy picture.
But the show also became a major national political story as Meryl Streep skewered President-elect Donald Trump in her acceptance speech for her Cecil B. DeMille Award.
Streep's speech — and the Twitter responses to it by Trump — became a hot topic on the network morning shows and cable news programs Monday. The strong reaction is a sign that the nation's divided political climate may bring an unpredictable dynamic to live awards shows, making them must-watch events again.
One network executive who spoke on condition of anonymity said a Trump-versus-the-entertainment-industry dialogue could boost the audience for awards shows going forward. "It's going to generate stories where they may not be an interesting story otherwise," said the executive, who was not authorized to comment.
A decline in ratings seemed possible this year for the Golden Globes, as most of the films nominated were in limited release or were modest successes at the box office.
Also, the nominees in the television categories were mostly from cable shows and series distributed by streaming services that much of the broadcast network audience may not have been widely familiar with.
In 2016, the Golden Globes averaged 18.5 million viewers, down 4% from 2015.