The Oscars: Academy Awards telecast hits all-time low in the ratings

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The Oscars, Academy Awards, ABC, 93rd Annual Academy Awards

I think we all saw this coming given the fact that award shows have been seeing steady declines in recent years but it still has to come as a blow to ABC and The Academy that Sunday night’s 93rd Academy Awards crashed to an all-time viewership low.

The ceremony was watched by 9.85 million viewers and it hit a pretty dismal 1.9 in the coveted 19-49 demo. The is an all-time low for The Oscars by a huge margin and it marks the first time the telecast has fallen below 10 million viewers. This year’s airing of the ceremony saw a 58% drop in terms of audience from what was the previous low set by the 2020 Oscars on February 9 last year. In terms of the 18-49 demo, the ceremony came crashing down by 64.2% compared to the previous year.

This year The Oscars were also available online on Hulu+Live, ABC.com, YouTubeTV, the ABC app, and a handful of other options. I’m sure some viewers caught the show via these various platforms and ABC will likely look at that data soon to see if it gives the telecast a significant boost. ABC and The Academy had to be aware that the ratings would take a hit. Between the pandemic, shuttered movie theaters during 2020, declining ratings for award shows in general, and Oscar nominees that lacked a lot of big-name recognition for casual moviegoers, the telecast had A LOT working against it. I asked many of my friends if they saw the films nominated for Best Picture and, despite them being available for home viewing long before the ceremony, the movies just weren’t on their radar. This is has been a problem for The Oscars during a normal year when smaller films earn Oscar praise but don’t have a tone of eyeballs on them so it’s no surprise that the pandemic-influenced 2020 release slate would mostly be ignored by casual movie watchers as well.

What will ABC and The Academy do now? I will say they did the best they could considering what was working against them but there needs to be a serious discussion about the value of shows like this moving forward. Perhaps they should go streaming rather than being aired on network TV because the audience for them is becoming more niche as the years go on. A lot of people don’t want to see a bunch of celebrities heaping praise on each other, especially after a year when many people have lost so much. I’m not saying The Oscars should go away. The best of the best should be acknowledged for putting in great work but how they’re delivered to the masses definitely needs to be reconsidered. Declines like this will continue to happen if ABC and The Academy don’t make drastic changes to the format and telecast moving forward.

Did YOU watch The Oscars on Sunday? Are YOU surprised viewership hit an all-time low?

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