Despite all the social media buzz surrounding the Oscars, the awards show reached an all-time low with its 2020 viewership ratings over the weekend.
Compared to 29.6 million in 2019, viewership for the annual awards ceremony fell to 23.6 million last Sunday — which is more than a 20 per cent drop, according to Nielsen.
This marks the lowest ratings for the broadcast since 2018 when around 26.5 million viewers tuned it.
It was also the second year in a row that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences opted not to have a host but, instead, a number of musical guests and special guest presenters, including Natalie Portman, Billie Eilish, Chris Rock and Steve Martin.
In Canada, the 2020 Oscars attracted 4.6 million viewers as opposed to last year’s five million, according to the Associated Press.
With the rise and dominance of streaming services over the last decade, rates of television viewership and cable subscriptions have dropped significantly — which could account for at least some of that lost viewership, along with the lack of an Oscars host.
However, Tom O’Neil, founder of Goldderby.com, a website devoted to awards show news, blamed the disappointing turnout on the lack of diversity among Oscar nominees.
“It was too predictable, too white and too boring,” he told the Associated Press.
Though South Korean film Parasite took home four awards, including Best Picture, O’Neil says the average Oscars viewer may not have seen the critically acclaimed foreign film or one of its Best Picture competitors, 1917.
“The only suspense of the evening was for Best Picture, and the average viewer hadn’t seen Parasite or 1917, so they weren’t emotionally invested,” O’Neil explained.
Parasite premiered in Canada last September, while 1917 — an action drama set during the First World War — only made its way to North America on Jan. 10.
The actors who took the four biggest prizes — Joaquin Phoenix, Renée Zellweger, Brad Pitt and Laura Dern — had also won previous awards for their roles, so there were few surprises and few indelible moments, O’Neil said on Monday.
Hank Stuever, TV critic for the Washington Post, also said the show was too predictable. He called it “Oscar autopilot — three and a half hours of Hollywood cruising along at 35,000 feet. Viewers could be forgiven for nodding off for most of the flight.”
— With files from the Associated Press