An Oscar is seen as one of if not the highest award that can be granted to a film. Then it would come as no surprise that the Oscars ceremony would have extremely high viewership ratings, right? Well, not quite. The Oscars had the lowest viewership of the 21st century in 2018 with 26.5 viewers. This is a 20% reduction in viewership from last year. I have heard numerous answers that offer rational explanations to the massive reduction. These might include, “The hosts aren’t as good as they were before,” or “The Oscars are becoming too politicized.” Even more so, streaming culture and all of its anywhere-anytime glory have also catalyzed the decent, insofar as people have responded with, “I don’t really care about the Oscars,” or even “Dude I had to catch up on The Walking Dead”.
Although some of these answers are compelling, they don’t explain why the ratings for the Oscars have been on the decline since 2001. After all, the Oscars should be an awards show that knows no pigeonholed demographic. The viewership in 2001 was as high as 42.9 million, which of course is in stark contrast of recent years. One interesting trend I noticed with my friends and family is that they watched segments of the awards, but they didn’t watch it live. What I mean by this is that they either watched highlights of the event on YouTube or got updates on Twitter. Another reason as to why viewership could be on the decline is the movies that have been nominated recently. There is a trend of more indie and art house films being nominated for and winning awards (no disrespect).
For example, I don’t think many people can relate to a deaf woman who is romantically involved with a fish person, as was the case in this year’s Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Regardless of the reason for the decline ,it’s obvious that the academy has to change something if they want to see an increase in ratings.