Academy Awards Broadcast Needs To Be Fixed

Three hours after the show began, a half-hour after prime time ended, the first of the four major awards was handed out.

Every year I watch the show. Every year I am bored for three-plus hours. And every year I promise myself that next year, I’ll tune in after 11 p.m. and just see who wins the top awards.

The structure of the show seems designed to minimize ratings and lose a whole generation of viewers.  I know it might be strange to say that about a program that is traditionally the highest-rated non-sports event on television, but that may not be always the case if some relatively simple changes are not made.  

It’s interesting to note that in the previous 10 years, the median age of the broadcast rose from 47 to 54.  This year it may be even older.

Let’s take a look at this year’s broadcast.

The first acting award, Best Supporting Actress, was presented at about 9:10 pm. For the next hour and a half, during the peak of prime time, no other acting awards were given out. Instead, we got Costume Design, Production Design, Makeup and Hair Styling, Cinematography, Film Editing, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Visual Effects, Animated Short Film, and Animated Feature. 



These awards are important to industry insiders, as well as the nominees’ circles of friends and family. Not so much to the general viewing public.  I am by no means suggesting eliminating any of these, simply changing the schedule of when they are presented.

At about 10:30 p.m., they presented Best Supporting Actor.  Another hour then went by before any of the Big Four awards were doled out. We did get Documentary Short Film, Documentary Feature, Live Action Short, Best Foreign Film, Original Score and Original Song.

At 11:30 p.m., they announced, “the big acting awards are still to come.”  Best Actress was presented at 11:44, Best Actor at 11:51, and Best Picture at midnight.

There was a time (pre-1990s), when it probably seemed logical to hold back the major awards as a way to keep viewers tuned in.  But in today’s media world, particularly with big live events, social media often keeps people tuned in.

Had the major awards been spread out over the entire telecast, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and the like would have probably seen significantly more Oscar-related activity. Social media would have kept more people tuned in and discussing the show.

Here’s how I would do it:

After the opening, present Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress.

Then present a major award every 45 minutes. For Best Actor, Actress  and Picture, precede the award presentation with three-minute clips of each nominee – this will provide a better picture of each performance and greater anticipation for each award. 

While showing the clips, the Academy could even give viewers a chance to vote online or by phone. Then show their choices online at the end of the broadcast to see how they compare to the actual winners.   

At 9 p.m., present Best Director.  At 9:45 present Best Actor. At 10:30 present Best Actress. At 11:15 present Best Picture.

The show will flow better, it won’t be nearly as boring, and ratings will improve.

5 comments about "Academy Awards Broadcast Needs To Be Fixed ".
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  1. Marcelo Salup from Iffective LLC, February 29, 2016 at 1:24 p.m.

    I didn't even bother watching it this year. Or last year. Or, actually, the year before that. Come to think about it... I really haven't watched the Oscars in over half a decade. It is so utterly irrelevant. And, by the way, I really would do away with the barrage of totally irrelevant awards to concentrate on the few that people really want: best actor, best actress... that kind of thing.

    I know that it is almost anathema (hell, the father of one of my best friends actually won one of those technical awards in 68 and we still brag about it!) but they are just filler and the Oscars run the risk of turning off a bunch of people who, like me, can tune in to YouTube (wait? did I say tune in???) to catch relevant moments.

    What would I do?

    1. Concentrate on only major awards and perhaps a couple of quirky ones
    2. Show longer clips of the movies (for many of us, that's the time to see them all)
    3. Cut the program to 2 or 3 hours (3 max)

    And I fully agree with the voting via Twitter or other social media. Would make a great and highly engaging mechanism to keep people in the audience.

    Let me know if they make the changes, if not, I'll catch you next year when, again, you will offer sage advise and be totally ignored!

  2. Portia Badham from BadWyn Communications, February 29, 2016 at 1:38 p.m.

    Ironically enough, in years past the Best Supporting Oscars were the first awards of the evening and then all others were given out until the final four. So you're totally on point with that well as your others. I vote Steve for next year's Oscar telecast producer!

  3. Jon Currie from Currie Communications, Inc., February 29, 2016 at 2:23 p.m.

    Actually, the best picture award was given out at 8:15. The East Coast also needs to get over itself. (I gew up in New York city, btw). Learn to add 3 hours onto your time schedules. We on the West always have to subtract three. Any live event done out here is always quoted in EST, not in PST, which is insulting.

    Also, get over the age thing. Yes, the audience got 7 years older over the last 10 years. What is surprising is that it didn't get 10 years older. Do you think the core audience just fades away? How can it get younger? Do the math. If the core stays--it gets older. And how old are you Steve?  About my age. You watch it. Stop watching and let your kids/nephews or whomever is younger watch instead. Think about it.

  4. Marilois Snowman from Mediastruction, February 29, 2016 at 3:50 p.m.

    I would get rid of all the thank-yous. Last night was the final straw for me, when I had to endure an annoying scroll thanking noone I knew PLUS the winner thanking more random people verbally. Give me a wave and a mouthed "thank you" from the winner at his seat and more interesting content - like outtakes, anecdotes, insider secrets, etc. I'll catch up on the most interesting clips online. 

  5. Michael Kaplan from Blue Sky Creative, March 2, 2016 at 12:34 p.m.

    I also don't understand why ABC doesn't do more during the week leading up to the Oscars to build hype. Sure, they do promos with their stars, but why not actually AIR the documentary and live-action shorts on the Friday night preceding the Oscar broadcast? At least, that way, some of us might actually be interested in the winners.

    And on the Saturday before the broadcast, devote the entire night to examining the other "minor" awards using extended clips and behind-the-scenes interviews. I mean, what's the difference between Sound Editing and Sound Effects Editing actually mean?

    Think how well the NFL extends the Super Bowl hype for nearly two weeks. The Academy and ABC (or Netflix, or HBO, or whomever) should do the same for the Oscars.

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