By Steve Gorman
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The People's Choice Awards bombed in the television ratings as viewers tuned out the strike-altered CBS broadcast, sounding an alarm for upcoming awards programs including the Oscars.
The two-hour show hosted by Queen Latifah on Tuesday averaged just 6 million viewers overall, down 5.3 million from last year, while ratings among viewers ages 18 to 49 -- the group most coveted by advertisers -- fell to less than half the 2007 level, Nielsen Media Research reported on Wednesday.
The film and television awards show had been scaled back from a traditional ceremony, in which stars accept trophies and make speeches onstage, to a "magazine"-style format in which winners gave thank-you speeches in pre-taped interviews.
"There was no sense of ceremony. It was like something being done in a bunker," TV Guide critic Matt Roush said. "Anybody who made it to the end, I suppose, was somebody who had won a People's Choice Award."
The ratings plunge was an ominous sign for this Sunday's telecast of the Golden Globe Awards -- another film and TV awards show that has been reduced to a news conference on NBC due to the Hollywood writers strike. The Golden Globes show regularly reaches about 20 million viewers.
"I think only the most desperate show business junkie will be tuning in Sunday for what they have to offer," Roush said.
Moreover, it could bode ill for the Oscars, the world's top film awards, if the strike is not settled before that ceremony airs on ABC on February 24. Last year, nearly 40 million viewers watched the star-studded Oscars ceremony.
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