Bare-bones Golden Globes telecast flops in ratings

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Sunday’s bare-bones Golden Globes telecast, presented without the usual Hollywood pomp due to the screenwriters strike, proved that entertainment award shows aren’t much without their stars.

NBC’s hourlong broadcast of the 65th Annual Golden Globe Awards with video clips of nominees in each category drew a meager 5.8 million viewers, Nielsen Media Research reported on Monday.

That is a little more than one-quarter last year’s U.S. television audience for the Globes -- 20 million viewers -- and even fewer than the 6 million who tuned in for CBS’ pretaped presentation of the less prestigious People’s Choice Awards last week.

As a result of lower viewership, NBC lost $10 million to $15 million in advertising revenue compared to what it had planned for the Globes telecast, according to one source familiar with advertising rates for the event.

The anemic ratings are an ominous sign for next month’s planned telecast of the Oscars, the film industry’s highest honors, which, like the Golden Globes and People’s Choice Awards, is under threat of picketing by striking Hollywood writers.

The walkout by 10,500 members of the Writers Guild of America, now in its 11th week, has thrown the TV industry into disarray, derailed some movie productions and idled thousands of production workers.

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which sponsors the Globes, scrapped its traditional three-hour gala when it became clear most of the nominated actors and presenters would likely boycott the event rather than cross picket lines.

Instead, the association decided to announce the winners during a half-hour news conference at the Beverly Hilton Hotel attended by journalists, media executives and publicists.

A string of hosts from various syndicated TV entertainment shows took turns reading the names of the winners, which included the wartime epic “Atonement” as best movie drama and “Sweeney Todd” as best film musical.

The subdued news conference was carried live by several cable networks. But NBC, home of the Globes for the past 12 years, aired its own version of the winners announcement in an hourlong broadcast hosted by Billy Bush and Nancy O’Dell of celebrity TV show “Access Hollywood.” They recited winners and traded banter in between clips of nominees in each category.

It was that broadcast that averaged 5.8 million viewers against competition from CBS’ Western miniseries “Comanche Moon” and ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” which averaged 16.6 million and 13.9 million viewers, respectively.

Organizers of the 80th annual Academy Awards are still planning a traditional ceremony on February 24 to be hosted by cable TV comedian Jon Stewart. The 2007 Oscars show drew more than 40 million viewers, one of the year’s most-watched broadcasts on U.S. television. (Editing by Bob Tourtellotte and Doina Chiacu)