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Academy Awards Telecast Ratings Crash To Historic Low

Academy Awards Telecast Ratings Crash To Historic Low

Sunday night's Academy Awards telecast received the ratings equivalent of a Razzie Award, with the lowest viewership audience since data tracking began in 1974.

What Happened: The earliest available data from Nielsen's determined that Sunday's show recorded a dismal 1.9 rating among adults ages 18-49 and 9.85 million total viewers, according to a report in The Wrap. The data was not adjusted for time zones – the live telecast started 8:00 p.m. EDT – and finalized data is not due to be released until Tuesday.

Nonetheless, the early ratings data represented a 64% year-over-year freefall in the key telecast's key demographic audience and a 58% drop in overall viewers compared to the 2020 telecast, which was the previous holder of the record-low viewer attendance for an Oscars show.

Why It Happened: The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted this year's Oscar season, forcing the awards ceremony to be delayed by two months and the ceremony to be significantly scaled down from the cavernous Dolby Theatre in Hollywood to a Los Angeles' Union Station, which was reconfigured into a more modest setting with only nominees, their guests and presenters in attendance.

The majority of the films in contention this year were smaller works lacking top-tier Hollywood stars. "Nomadland," which won the Best Picture Award, had the history-making distinction of being the lowest grossing film to ever win the top Oscar prize, with a box office of only $36 million.

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For those who tuned in, the ceremony was a mostly somber affair with no clips from the nominated films, longer than usual acceptance speeches and an absence of musical numbers – the nominees for Best Song were performed in a production that aired ahead of the awards ceremony.

The telecast also broke with precedent by having the Best Actor Award presented at the show's end rather than the Best Picture Award. Many observers assumed this was done to honor the late Chadwick Boseman, a nominee for "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" who was a heavy favorite to win. Instead, the award was given to Anthony Hopkins for "The Father," who was not present to accept the prize. This morning, Hopkins posted a brief acceptance video online that included praise for Boseman's cinematic legacy.

Still, the Oscars are hardly alone when it came to a shrinking television audience. Last month's Grammy Awards, February's Golden Globes Awards and last September's Emmy Awards also recorded the smallest audience numbers in their respective histories.

If there was a winner, it was ABC, a subsidiary of Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS). The network sold all of the advertising slots for the show, generating $129 million in advertising revenue along with an extra $21 million for the pre-show red carpet parade of Hollywood stars.

(Daniel Kaluuya posing with the Best Supporting Actor Award he won for "Judas and the Black Messiah." Photo courtesy AMPAS.)


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Posted-In: ABC Academy Awards Anthony Hopkins Chadwick Boseman Nomadland television ratingsNews Media Best of Benzinga

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