Golden ratings for Globes

Best showing since 1981

If its preliminary national Nielsens hold up, the Golden Globe Awards have blossomed into a truly big-time ratings attraction, ascending to what’s apparently the highest rating for any kudocast besides the Academy Awards in nearly four years.

Sunday’s NBC Golden Globes coverage has earned roughly a 15.9 rating, 25 share in preliminary Nielsens for the night, with final nationals due out this morning and significant adjustments still possible. If it stands, that 15.9 rating is 19% better than last year’s final national Globes tally, 23% better than the 1996 average and equal to the results for the Globes’ last network airing before its current NBC run, a telecast by CBS in 1981.

More impressive than merely the size of its overall audience last Sunday was the ability of the Golden Globes to increase that audience size with each primetime half-hour, something none of the other top awards shows has managed in at least the past year.

The Globes’ 15.9 national rating doesn’t approach what the Oscars attracted last March (27.4/46), but is comfortably ahead of all other net kudocasts of the past year, including the Emmys (13.5/21), the Grammys (13.4/22), the American Music Awards (13.2/21), the Tonys (9.6/16) and the Screen Actors Guild Awards (7.6/14).

When the Golden Globes returned to network TV with NBC’s January ’96 coverage (12.9/20), the kudocast was merely the fifth-highest rated among network awards shows that season, behind the Oscars, the Grammys, the American Music Awards and the Country Music Assn. Awards.

Back in ’81, with its last CBS broadcast before a run on cable, the Globes finished 11 shares behind the Emmys, 8 shares behind the Grammys and just 1 share ahead of the Tonys.

With last Sunday’s big Globes numbers, aided in no small part by an aggressive promotional campaign on NBC, the Peacock web won the night by 4 shares over CBS in homes, with a 13.6/21 vs. CBS’ 11.1/17. ABC (8.6/14) and Fox (6.7/10) trailed. Only “Touched by an Angel” (12.8/20) gave the Golden Globes serious timeslot competition. From 9-11 p.m., the top-rated challenger was the CBS vidpic “Best Friends for Life” (roughly 9.6/15).

Demographic info to be released today will no doubt give NBC considerably wider margins of victory Sunday than even what the Peacock enjoyed in households.

NBC promotions department helped achieve the Globes’ big numbers, since the telecast earned a solid 13.5/19 in its first half-hour, enough to edge out CBS’ “Touched by an Angel” for that time period.

If it stands up, that slot victory would mark the first time “Angel” has been beaten in homes in the 11 weeks since ABC’s “Cinderella” vidpic.

Then the ceremony itself did an excellent job of building on that strong initial tune-in, increasing its rating each primetime half-hour, according to the preliminary nationals. Such unscripted moments as Ving Rhames giving his award to Jack Lemmon, Christine Lahti turning up late to accept her award and Jack Nicholson’s ribald response to it all contributed to the show’s watchability.

From 7-9 p.m., ABC’s “Ruby Bridges” (9.6/15) collected the best “Wonderful World of Disney” rating in eight weeks and second-best to-date by a made-for (behind only “Cinderella”). “Bridges” won its slot in kids, teens and all key female demos.

Sunday was also the first night key Sinclair Broadcasting stations switched from UPN to WB, but Nielsen overnights showed no particular impact from the affiliation swap. WB actually declined from the previous week’s 3.1/4 Sunday overnights to a 2.6/4. (No UPN results were available since UPN doesn’t program Sundays.) Three of the four Sinclair stations in metered markets did considerably better than WB’s overall metered-market average.

Each national household ratings point represents an estimated 980,000 homes, or 1% of the country’s TV households. The share is the same sort of percentage, except it measures only the homes in which TV is being watched during the timeslot involved.