Donald W. Reynolds National Center For Business Journalism

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Hashtags win the day at award shows

February 6, 2015

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The Grammy Awards are this Sunday. But don’t ask Millennials who won best new artist or the prize for a spoken word album.

Because when it comes to award shows, Millennials are all about the hashtag.

Besides sports, awards shows are one of the last televised events Millennials make an effort to tune in for live. That’s meant a surge in viewership for the Grammys and other red carpet events in recent years.

Grantland reports that in 2013 and 2014,  more than 28 million viewers watching the show each year.

They aren’t just there to cheer as Adele walks out with an arm full of trophies or listen to rambling acceptance speeches. The Grammys and Oscars are social events for young viewers.

Case in point: There were 13.77 million tweets during the Grammys last year, according to a Nielson report in the Grantland article. The Oscars topped out at 11.16 million tweets in 2014 as well.

So, what’s the draw? Well, as Steven Hyden writes:

Twitter is ideal for events that are live, a little stupid, and prone to provoking outrage, so it’s no surprise that it works so well for the Grammys. The Grammys are like the Super Bowl, Sharknado, and a poorly worded New York Times op-ed rolled into one. It’s a perfect storm for hate-watchers.

Twitter trending for young people is a lot like lunchroom gossip in high school, except celebrities are involved. That’s why they love to watch the red carpet or when something funny or scandalous happens.

It mixes perfectly with internet culture, which thrives on irony and can turn the likeliest of people or things famous.

Remember, this generation turned a dancing shark into the star of Super Bowl XLIX, the most watched television event in history. Playing the Super Bowl half time show might have been Katy Perry’s dream since childhood, but it was #leftshark whom Millennials immortalized that night.

All of this might make some adults shake their head in disbelief at the nearest twenty-something, but TV networks are running with it.

The Hollywood Reporter reports that CBS has picked up Tyler Oakley to host their red carpet coverage for the Grammys this Sunday.

Oakley gained fame as a vlogger on Youtube and is currently an online activist, so he speaks the social media language. You’re also hard pressed to find any major television event that isn’t assigned a hashtag for trending.

Of course, many young people fall in line with traditional viewership and want to see their favorite artists win awards. But if one of them gets snubbed, you’re sure to see it pop up on your Twitter feed the next day.

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