A new report reveals just what went on behind the scenes that convinced the Motion Picture Academy to make the changes announced this week to the Oscars — changes that included adding a category for popular film, a decision that has been widely criticized.
To nobody’s surprise, the changes were prompted by low ratings for this year’s telecast. Variety reports that ABC, which has a deal in place to broadcast the Oscars through the year 2028, expressed concern after the ratings for the annual ceremony “fell off a cliff.”
“The 26.6 million viewers averaged by the 2018 Oscars, according to Nielsen live-plus-same day numbers, represented a 19% decline from 2017, and 39% drop from the show’s recent peak in 2014,” Variety reports. “Numbers for younger viewers were even worse. Ratings in the 18-49 demo fell 24% from 2017 and 47% from 2014. The 18-34 demo was down 29% from 2017 and 56% from 2014.”
Other major awards shows have also experienced erosion lately, but nothing as severe as the decline for the Oscars.
Variety reports that Disney-ABC Television Group executives met with AMPAS leaders in the days after the 90th Academy Awards telecast to crunch the numbers.
“At the come-to-Jesus meeting after March’s show, the TV people walked through the lousy ratings at a granular level, identifying precise moments during the show that prompted viewers to stop watching,” Variety reports. “They made several recommendations about the ways that the telecast’s length could be reined in, and proposed a ‘best blockbuster’ category that would reward films that had been seen by larger audiences. They also argued that viewers had become fatigued by the ever-increasing number of televised awards shows — including the Golden Globe Awards, whose viewership has been relatively stable in recent years — and that the Oscars should be moved to an early calendar period.”
The academy was listening, apparently, sending out a tweet Wednesday morning announcing all the changes ABC wanted, which you can see below.
We encourage readers to click on the link above to Variety to read the full report.