Members are bombarding the Academy with objections to its new plans for 8 awards — but, remember, it’s all about ratings.
The buzz is the now vilified Academy leaders had no choice but to promise ABC the 3-hour-max show it wants. Last year’s telecast had only 10.4M average viewers, -56% vs. 23.6M in 2020. 2021’s show was 19 minutes over the now mandated 3 hours. The overage matters because when Oscar reveals the best picture after 11:00 p.m./ ET, it loses viewers — especially those who haven’t seen the contenders and don’t care who wins.
When average viewership is compiled, that soft fourth hour hurts the first 3 hours. ABC got about $2M per:30 ad last year. Madison Avenue won’t pay that price for a show with poor ratings.
Last year’s show aired mid-pandemic, which didn’t help, with the best picture going to NOMADLAND (pictured). There was no A-List host to draw viewers as Ellen DeGeneres did so well in 2014 when 12 YEARS A SLAVE won with 43.7M viewers. What really helped were strong noms like CAPTAIN PHILLIPS (Tom Hanks), GRAVITY (George Clooney) & THE WOLF OF WALL STREET (Leonardo DiCaprio).
Those were films people actually saw and hoped would win. Most of this year’s noms, however worthy critics say they are, just haven’t been seen by enough people to auger well for decent ratings.