By Emily Suarez Contributor
While the 90th Academy Awards had some great highs and historic wins, the ceremony’s ratings were extremely low compared to previous years. In fact, the show averaged around 26.5 million viewers, nearly 20 percent less than last year.
With the rise of streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, consumers are less likely to own televisions and watch programs as they premiere.
The 2008 Academy Awards have been replaced by the 2018 ceremony as the lowest-rated Oscars telecast ever. The 2008 ceremony, hosted by Jon Stewart, lured in 31.8 million viewers, far better than this year.
Why the sudden shift in ratings? The Academy Awards have been slowly losing viewership for the past couple of years, and the 2018 ceremony was no exception. As television viewing habits have changed, so have their ratings. Viewers have gone from gathering in front of the TV set at a certain time for a single episode to binge-watching entire seasons in one sitting. With the rise of streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, consumers are less likely to own televisions and watch programs as they premiere.
The Oscars weren’t the only entertainment program to suffer a blow from the decrease in cable subscribers. This year saw a drop in the ratings of the Grammys as well as the Super Bowl. The football championship was down 7% from the previous year and the music awards lost 6 million viewers.
Another reason this year’s Academy Awards lacked viewership was because people already had an idea of who would win. Most Oscar recipients had already won several other awards for their performances, making the lengthy ceremony predictable. While this isn’t the major reason for the low ratings, it could explain why people didn’t watch: they already knew the outcome.
What the Academy needs to do is become more appealing to those who have cable television.
Upon inquiry, I found that many of my peers didn’t watch the Oscars. Perhaps the fast-paced and binge-loving millennial doesn’t want to watch a four-hour telecast full of films they may not have seen and wait through lengthy commercials that they don’t care for.
What the Academy needs to do is become more appealing to those who have cable television. One way this could be achieved is to tighten up the length of the ceremony. Often, the Oscars are over three hours, and this year’s show was pushing the four-hour mark. Viewers would be far more likely to tune in to shorter programs. This could be achieved by taking out the extra activities hosts do.
This year, for example, Jimmy Kimmel took several celebrities to a movie theater across the street from the Dolby Theatre, where the awards were taking place. While the notion to surprise moviegoers with some snacks and celebrities was a sweet one, it felt like a time killer.
The Academy Awards are not going away anytime soon, but the decreasing viewership does bring up the question of cable versus streaming and where consumers really receive and view content from.