Golden Globes: Here’s What Will Happen if NBC’s NFL Game Spills Into the Awards on Sunday

As most televised awards shows continue to suffer ratings declines, the Golden Globes has a secret weapon: For the second year in a row, it will air behind an NFL Wild Card game on NBC.

The Seattle Seahawks and Philadelphia Eagles will face off at 4:40 p.m. ET on Sunday for a chance to move on in this year’s playoffs, giving the Globes a tremendous lead-in. But the timing is tight: Should the game go long, that might bump up against the Globes’ 8 p.m. ET start time.

According to insiders, NBC has a simple plan in case that happens: If the football game goes long, the Globes telecast won’t start until it ends, and will still run in its entirety.

Last year was the first time NBC ran the late Sunday afternoon game during Wild Card weekend, and the timing was tight: The matchup, between the Eagles and the Chicago Bears, ended at around 7:54 p.m. — giving NBC six minutes to vamp before turning things over to the Globes.

As NBC’s telecast of the NFL Wild Card game between the Chicago Bears and the Philadelphia Eagles threatened to go long, Peacock execs at the time scrambled to figure out what to do with the Globes telecast. “We were going to hold out,” then-NBC Entertainment co-chair George Cheeks told Variety the next day. “The game was going to stay on NBC. We would have held the live show as long as we could.”

But ultimately, Cheeks added that the telecast would have eventually had to start in order to fulfill international feeds. In that case, it would have aired on a tape delay on NBC.

Luckily they didn’t have to worry about it, as the game ended with a victory for the Eagles, and heartbreak for the Bears over a missed field goal. And the reward was a year-to-year increase in viewership among adults 18-49. The Eagles/Bears game averaged a 10.4 rating in the demo, including a 13.2 rating in its final half hour — which fed into a strong 7.3 rating for the first half hour of the Globes (which featured the monologue by Andy Samberg and Sandra Oh).

Overall, the entire Globes broadcast in 2019 averaged a 5.3 with adults 18-49, up from the previous year’s 5.0. (Among total viewers, the show averaged 18.6 million viewers — down just a tick from the previous year’s 19 million).

Sports overruns are common — just ask CBS, which is forced to timeshift “60 Minutes” and the rest of its Sunday lineup almost every week in the fall, due to late AFC games going long. That’s why it won’t be unprecedented if this Sunday’s faceoff spills into the 8 p.m. hour — the Globes attendees at the Beverly Hilton will just have to wait patiently a few minutes longer for the show to begin.

That shouldn’t be a tall order — it would only be 5 p.m. in Los Angeles, and the notoriously raucous Globes attendees would likely relish spending more time table hopping and sipping champagne as host Ricky Gervais waited a beat backstage.

Plus, NBC would rather deal with an NFL overrun on its own network than having to compete with one on a rival network. The 2018 Globes, hosted by Seth Meyers, was impacted by airing opposite an NFL Wild Card game on Fox that bled into the 8 p.m. hour — leading to its second-lowest 18-49 rating of that decade.

Football audiences and awards show audiences aren’t one and the same, but expect the Globes to be heavily promoted during the Seahawks/Eagles game. And given Gervais’ unpredictable persona, there may be more audience crossover than usual — particularly with male sports viewers who would usually turn off the Globes.

The big issue of an NFL overrun is that bumping the Globes start time would pretty much guarantee the awards show won’t end at 11 p.m. ET — unless producers slash a lot of pre-planned elements. But that end time also becomes flexible as the night progresses: Last year’s Globes ended at 11:12 p.m., even without football spillover.

Meanwhile, the tight NFL lead-in means that NBC has once again scrapped its Golden Globes pre-show, which traditionally aired at 7 p.m. ET. But NBCUniversal sibling E! Entertainment will air Globes red carpet coverage starting at 4 p.m. ET on Sunday. Plus, Dick Clark Prods. and the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. will produce their own arrivals special, “HFPA Presents Globes Red Carpet Live,” for Facebook. That special will stream between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. ET on Facebook Watch and via Facebook’s other social media handles.

The last time Gervais hosted, in 2016, the Golden Globes averaged a 5.5 rating among adults 18-49 and 18.5 million viewers overall. The Globes ended its no-host streak in 2010 with Gervais, who averaged a 5.5 rating in the demo and 17 million viewers that year; he returned in 2011 with a 5.2 rating in 18-49 and 17 million viewers; and in 2012 with a 5.0 rating in 18-49 and 16.9 million viewers.

After that, the Globes peaked in 2014 with hosts Amy Poehler and Tina Fey, who posted a 6.5 rating with adults 18-49 and 20.9 million viewers. The 10-year stretch of hosted Globes telecasts boasts a remarkable ratings consistency in the face of overall network TV erosion (Gervais’ 2012 show was actually its least-watched of the decade) — and Sunday’s NFL lead-in should help Gervais and the Globes maintain that streak this year.

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