The pattern of falling ratings continues to be a trend for award shows, even for Hollywood’s biggest night, the Academy Awards. Despite the star-studded attendance, it would appear that all the world’s A-listers coming together isn’t enough to entice viewers to come back for another year of gilded circular back-patting.
According to Variety, the viewership was still high compared to your everyday programming, but the Oscars saw a stunning drop in eyeballs with an even worse drop considering the key demographic:
23.6 million viewers tuned in on Sunday night to see “Parasite” sweep to a surprise victory. That’s a 20%, 6 million viewer drop-off from last year. The Academy’s second hostless show in a row scored a 5.3 rating among adults 18-49 in the fast national ratings, a 31% dip from 2019.
For comparison, last year’s Oscars delivered a 7.7 rating in adults 18-49 and 29.6 million viewers. That viewership figure, while up 12% from 2018, represented the second smallest audience ever for an Academy Awards telecast at the time. 2018 delivered the previous smallest viewership tally with 26.5 million viewers.
As Variety notes, this dip isn’t exactly a shock. Every award show has continued to see declines in viewership for years, especially recently:
News of the lows in both metrics isn’t entirely surprising, as awards show numbers in general have been in decline over the past few years. For instance, the 2020 Golden Globes dipped 2% on 2019 to eight-year viewership low, while the 2019 Emmys was the lowest-rated and least-watched in the show’s history, a refrain that is becoming all too familiar when discussing award show ratings lately.
As I’ve written before, the dips are for a mixture of reasons. On the surface, we now live in a digital age where it’s easier to watch five-minute clips of speeches or performances than sit through hours of awards that many people have no interest in.
The underlying problem, however, is that many Americans are just tired of tuning in to watch rich elitists tell them that their views are bad and if they want to live in a better world they should get on board with whatever the bubbled coastals say they should.
One of the most visceral reactions to this was the celebration of Ricky Gervais and his takedown of the Hollywood culture during the Golden Globes when he told them they have no right to talk down to us about anything.
This downward spiral likely won’t stop until the politics are taken out of it and they return to being a celebration of entertainment. This likely won’t happen without a massive cultural shift in Hollywood, a place deeply embedded in the center of a hard left bubble, so holding one’s breath isn’t advised.
One industry that dipped into the social justice pool and lost viewers by the millions has actually surged back after it ditched the socio-politics that had taken it over. The NFL took steps regarding political displays on the field, and last year brought in a 5 percent increase in viewers from day one according to The Wrap.
This held with a 9 percent increase as the season went on according to The Hollywood Reporter. THR even acknowledged the absence of the divisiveness of the political displays inspired by Colin Kaepernick as having enticed viewers to watch again:
What happened? Explanations for the rebound range from more exciting play on the field — scoring and other offensive metrics have boomed in the past season-plus — to the presence of high-profile young quarterbacks like Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs and Baker Mayfield of the Cleveland Browns to the NFL no longer being the culture-war battleground that it became in 2016 and 2017 thanks to Colin Kaepernick.
“If the conversation around football is primarily about the game, then we’re probably winning,” says Michael Mulvihill, executive vp and head of strategy and analytics at Fox Sports, which has the Super Bowl this season. “And if the conversation is about topics away from the game, we’re probably losing. I think the focus for the past season and a half has become more where we’d like it to be, which is just on the games.”
The lesson is clear. Ditch the politics, win the audience.
The problem is that this isn’t anything the Hollywood elite seem willing or ready to do.