Last year at this time with the pandemic still raging, the Oscars tanked in the ratings.
But what about this year? With COVID seemingly on the wane, can the Oscars make a comeback? The annual show airs this coming Sunday night on ABC.
Some might ask, what do the Oscars have to do with COVID? Last year, it was reasonable to suggest that the mass closing of movie theaters caused by the pandemic, and the subsequent increase in movie consumption at home, was a blow to movie-going from which the movie industry may only partially recover (if at all).
In fact, the migration of movies from theaters to home screens -- from smartphones to big-screen TVs -- was already long underway.
With the traditional movie-going experience in decline, coupled with Oscar-nominated movies that in the absence of theaters never gained traction with audiences, apathy set in and the industry’s annual celebration suffered.
Moreover, as the TV Blog has opined more than once here, movies that are now consumed primarily on home screens are technically not even categorizable as “movies” in the traditional sense.
Since they are now on TV at or near the same time they are released in theaters (if they are in theaters at all) movies today are TV for all intents and purposes.
Last year, the Oscar ratings nosedived. The telecast had a total audience of 9.8 million -- 58% down from a year earlier (2020) when it drew 23.6 million, a loss of 13.8 million viewers.
The 2020 Oscars was not impacted by the pandemic. It aired on February 9 of that year, about a month before the pandemic lockdowns began and movie-going ground to a halt.
The 2021 Oscar ratings represented a record low, and the biggest single loss of audience year-to-year in Oscar history. But even before that, the Oscar ratings had been declining since at least 2014.
That year, the show’s audience was 43.7 million. Thus, by 2020, the annual telecast had lost 46%, or roughly half, its audience.
This Sunday’s Oscar show will differ from the last three in at least one respect -- it will not be hostless like the 2019, 2020 and 2021 Oscars.
This year, the show will be co-hosted by Wanda Sykes (pictured above), Amy Schumer and Regina Hall.
However, it is doubtful that the return of Oscar hosts -- in this case, three of them -- will have any bearing on whether this year’s ratings rise or fall.
Generally speaking, a much more important question concerns the level of interest that ordinary people still possess about movies generally or the Oscars in particular.
To many, the Oscars and the movies they honor are just TV shows now that have no more importance than a thousand other things available to watch at any given time.
Still, the pandemic is fading and people are no longer shut-ins. Maybe we are all more ready today to engage in the outside world, which might include getting together as in days of old to watch the Oscars.
Perhaps viewership will return just enough to lift the Oscars up from last year’s record low, even if only a little bit.
Another aspect to consider is the perception of awards shows, and the Oscars in particular, as being perceived as political platforms, with a notable portion of award recipients using their acceptance speeches precisely to this purpose.
You do not need too look far to find dissenting voices in the social-media realm decrying how award-shows in general, and the Oscars in particular, have become politicized and unwatchable. A ratings drop should not be a surprise.
Not with Radar Ent. - Ha, long gone from the Ent. Universe. I am a Consultant now. Also, may I add - facts and quit avoiding; Oscars have become OBNOXIOUSLY too political. The REAL reason it is on a downward spiral. Let's see how the usual
non accredited Nielsen rates this show. Thx