For all those seemingly downsides to ABC’s “The Oscars” this year, there was a uptick in ratings -- a nice 12% gain. The show grabbed 30 million viewers, per Nielsen, with advertisers spending more, at a top $2.6 million per 30-second commercial.
Detractors will tell you it is still the second-worse Oscars TV viewed event ever. But will they also talk about how virtually everything else on TV is also at historically low ratings as well?
Except for film critics' after-show complaints about Best Picture of the year award, there was little on-screen controversy. Everyone was on their best behavior.
Even award-winner Spike Lee, with a detailed speech about justice, race, love and hate, got a standing ovation. “I give praise to our ancestors who helped build this country.”
Complaints on social media about the TV event itself? Very little. (President Trump complained about Lee’s speech. Perhaps he was upset no one mentioned him by name in the big TV show.)
Before the event, perhaps some were expecting a groundswell of comments about how the Oscar event would suffer because there was no host. Nope.
While a Jimmy Kimmel, Billy Crystal, Ellen DeGeneres and other funny people contribute plenty of funny bits over the years, there still was entertainment and big talent, including those important “Best Song” nominated performances.
For all intents and purposes, the Oscar event is like a long, star-studded variety show with some basic award hardware to deliver. No more, no less.
And this year’s telecast's viewing numbers had this factored in as well. Last year, the event was held March 4, typically a week after its traditional date, all to avoid competitive viewing issues from NBC’s two weeks of Winter Olympics TV programming.
From all the potential funny performers, including Kevin Hart, future hosts might come to the conclusion the going pay rate for fronting the biggest annual entertainment TV show just changed dramatically.
The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences may have saved itself a few bucks this year. Next year, maybe some of the presenters will just text in their category introductions.