The Oscars are Hollywood’s biggest night out, but fewer and fewer people outside of that circle are attending the event.
Last Sunday, the audience for the annual Oscars show dropped to a new low. According to Nielsen data, 10.4 million people watched which film took home the best picture award. That’s a nearly 56% decrease from the 23.6 million viewers who turned on their televisions for the show last year.
The Academy’s third consecutive hostless show scored a 2.12 rating for adults between 18 and 49, a key demographic for advertisers, down 60% from 2020.
The decline in both metrics is not entirely surprising, given that awards shows have generally seen a decline in viewership over the past few years. And only a few of the nominees were considered mainstream as the cinemas have largely been closed for a year due to the pandemic.
The Emmy Awards, which aired in September, had the lowest attendance for such a ceremony in the history of the television academy. The show only drew 5.1 million viewers, according to Nielsen, which is a 14% decrease from last year’s event.
The Grammys also saw astounding declines. This year’s awards show drew 9.23 million viewers, a 51% decrease from 18.69 million who chose the program in 2020.
Do people get bored at big awards shows or do they just look at each other differently?
Some argue that the flood of too many live awards ceremonies has saturated the market and made world-class awards shows like the Grammys, Emmys, and Oscars less exciting for viewers.
The Golden Globes, Video Music Awards (VMAs), Billboard Music Awards, Country Music Awards, BET Awards, People Choice Awards, Critics Choice Awards, and countless other ceremonies have been televised in recent years. With so little curation, it wouldn’t be surprising if viewers felt tired.
Not to mention, younger viewers, many of whom have cut cables, aren’t as willing to watch the traditional 16-20 minute commercials per hour that come with a live TV broadcast. A three-hour show like the Oscars can be an hour’s worth of advertising.
There are also some who complain that Hollywood uses its awards shows to make political and social statements. Regina King, who opened the Oscars on Sunday, used her time to point out how Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of three charges last year in the murder of George Floyd, an unarmed black.
“Now I know a lot of you at home will reach for your remote when you feel like Hollywood is preaching to you, but as a mother of a black son, I know the fear so many live with and no, the amount of fame or wealth changes that, “she said.
Then there are the nominees themselves. Nielsen’s data shows that more people were hired in the years that certain, more commercially popular films were nominated. The 2019 ceremony, which reached 29.6 million viewers, became nominees from popular films such as “Black Panther”, “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”, “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “A Star is Born”.
Even a decade ago, when Avatar, Up, Inglorious Basterds, District 9, The Hurt Locker and The Blind Side were nominated for best picture, ratings reached 41.6 million.
Of course, there is a chance that people might watch these awards shows, but they might see the programs differently. The Nielsen data does not include numbers for viewers who have chosen to watch one of the top awards shows on streaming platforms.
Dan Rayburn, a media and streaming analyst, said one obstacle is that the streaming industry has not yet agreed on a set definition of viewer. Each streaming service has a different method of reporting how many people have seen a particular movie, TV show, or live program. This can make it difficult to make comparisons between platforms and between those platforms and traditional cable providers.
Oscars 2021 coverage by CNBC
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