The Oscars are the biggest night for Hollywood, but fewer and fewer people outside of this circle are attending the event.
Last Sunday, viewers of the annual Oscar broadcast plunged to a new low, where 10.4 million people watched to find out which film received the best picture award, according to Nielsen data. That’s a drop of nearly 56% from the 23.6 million viewers who turned on their TV for the program last year.
The decline in both measurements is not entirely surprising, as price pressures have generally been declining in recent years. And few of the nominees were considered mainstream, as cinemas are largely closed for a year due to the pandemic.
Emmy Awards, aired in September, saw the lowest ratings of such a ceremony in the history of the Television Academy. The show attracted only 5.1 million viewers in total, which is 14% lower than last year’s event, according to Nielsen.
The Grammys also saw dizzying decline. This year’s awards show attracted 9.23 million viewers, a decrease of 51% from the 18.69 million who signed up for the program in 2020.
So do people get bored of big awards, or do they just look at them differently?
Some argue that the flood of too many live awards ceremonies has saturated the market and made top-tier awards shows like the Grammys, Emmys and Oscars less exciting for viewers.
Golden Globes, Video Music Awards (VMAs), Billboard Music Awards, Country Music Awards, BET Awards, People Choice Awards, Critics Choice Awards and countless other ceremonies have all been aired in recent years. With so little cure, it would not be surprising if viewers started getting tired.
Not to mention, younger viewers, many of whom have cut cable, are not so willing to sit through the traditional 16 to 20 minute commercials per hour that come with a live TV show. A three-hour show like Oscar can mean an hour’s worth of ads.
There are also some who particularly regret Hollywood for using its awards ceremonies to make political and social statements. Regina King, who opened Sunday’s Oscars, used her time to allude to how Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of three charges stemming from the murder of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, last year.
“Now I know many of you at home will reach out to your remote when you feel like Hollywood is preaching to you, but as the mother of a black son I know fears that so many live with and no amount of Fame or fortune changes that, ”she said.
Then there are the nominees themselves. Nielsen’s data show that in the years when certain, more commercially popular films were nominated, more people were nominated. The 2019 ceremony, which hit 29.6 million viewers, featured nominees from popular films such as “Black Panther,” “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “A Star is Born.”
Similarly, even a decade ago, when “Avatar”, “Up”, “Inglorious Basterds”, “District 9”, “The Hurt Locker” and “The Blind Side” were all nominated for best picture, reached ratings 41, 6 million.
Of course, there is the possibility that people will see these awards, but see the programs differently. The Nielsen data does not include figures for viewers who chose to see any of the largest price exhibitions on streaming platforms.
Dan Rayburn, a media and streaming analyst, said one barrier is that the streaming industry does not yet agree on a fixed definition of what a viewer is. Each streaming service has different ways of reporting how many people have watched a particular movie, TV series or live program. This can make it difficult to make comparisons between platforms and between these platforms and traditional cable providers.