The Oscars award show on Sunday night set a record for how few people tuned in to watch the Hollywood spectacle.
The number of total viewers dropped roughly 58% year-over-year from the then-record low in 2020, according to The Wrap. The number of total viewers plummeted from 23.6 million total viewers in 2020 to just 9.85 million total viewers on Sunday night.
The drop was even worse among the prized demographic of adults ages 18-49.
“Those initial numbers for the 2021 awards show, which was taped at Union Station in Los Angeles and aired live on ABC from 8-11:17 p.m. ET, represent a decline of 64% in the key demo and 58% in overall viewers compared to 2020’s results, but a more accurate comparison can be made when finalized data comes in Tuesday,” The Wrap reported.
Last week, a producer for the Oscars admitted to The New York Times that celebrities using the awards show to opine on politics and other controversial issues has a significant, real-time effect on the show’s viewership.
“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.
The 2021 Oscars turned toward the hotly debated trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in its opening moments. Actress Regina King said that had Chauvin’s trial turned out differently — he was convicted on charges of manslaughter and murder in the death of George Floyd — she would have traded in her “heels for marching boots.”
“It has been quite a year,” King said. “And we are smack dab in the middle of it. We are mourning the loss of so many, and I have to be honest: If things had gone differently this past week in Minneapolis, I may have traded in my heels for marching boots. Now, I know that a lot of you people at home would reach for your remote when you feel like Hollywood is preaching to you, but as a mother of a black son, I know the fear that so many live with and no amount of fame and fortune changes that.”
At another point during the awards show, Travon Free, writer of the Oscar-Winning Best Live Action Short Film “Two Different Strangers,” hammered police and suggested that law enforcement would unjustifiably kill hundreds of people, disproportionately black, in the coming year.
“Today, the police will kill three people. And tomorrow the police will kill three people. And the day after that the police will kill three people because on average every day in America the police will kill three people, which amounts to about 1,000 people a year,” Free said while accepting his Oscar. “And those people happen to be disproportionately black people. And, y’know, James Baldwin once said, ‘The most despicable thing a person can be is indifferent to other people’s pain.’ And so I just ask that you please not be indifferent, please, don’t be indifferent to our pain.”