The people behind the Oscars know that viewers don’t want to listen to celebrities worth millions of dollars discuss issues they don’t truly understand and push liberal politics on their fans, yet the awards ceremony appears to be doubling down on divisiveness.
Buried in a New York Times article about the Oscars’ waning viewership, an anonymous producer admitted that “vast swaths” of viewers turn off the TV once the celebrities start talking politics.
“Increasingly, the ceremonies are less about entertainment honors and more about progressive politics, which inevitably annoys those in the audience who disagree. One recent producer of the Oscars, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss confidential metrics, said minute-by-minute post-show ratings analysis indicated that ‘vast swaths’ of people turned off their televisions when celebrities started to opine on politics,” the Times reported toward the end of its lengthy article.
Earlier in the article, the Times reported that even if the Oscars producers know this, they don’t care, as the focus this year will be “less on winning and instead make sure the notably diverse group of nominees has a better-than-average time by making the event more communal and intimate.”
Oscars ratings have been falling for decades from its 1998 peak of 57.2 million viewers. The past seven years, however, have seen a dramatic drop – 44% since 2014. The Times reported that if the Oscars see a drop like the Golden Globes saw in February, fewer than 10 million people are likely to tune in to the Academy Awards this year.
Part of that is due to the pandemic, with all of the films up for honors this year having less than 50% recognition among viewers. Just 35% of respondents to a Guts + Data survey said they had heard of “Nomadland,” the apparent front-runner for best picture.
The Times pointed to other issues that might cause low viewership before admitting the obvious – that people don’t want to hear celebrities impose leftist politics on them.
Other suggestions for low viewership, from the Times:
Analysts point to a litany of challenges propelling the decline. Old broadcast networks like ABC are not as relevant, especially to young people. The ceremonies, even if kept to a relatively brisk three hours, are too long for contemporary attention spans. Last year’s Oscars ran three hours and 36 minutes (the equivalent of 864 videos on TikTok).
Why slog through the show when you can just watch snippets on Twitter and Instagram?
Moreover, the Oscars have become overly polished and predictable. “The Oscars used to be the only time when you got to see movie stars in your living room, and very frequently it was a hoot,” Ms. Basinger, the Hollywood historian, said. “Some seemed a little drunk. Some wore weird clothes. A few had hair hanging in their face.”
One final suggestion is that people have “awards show fatigue” due to the 18 televised awards shows each year.