If you think you’re having a hard time of it in Lockdown, then spare a thought for the poor souls in Hollywood. Bear in mind, before you read this, that just seven years ago, the Oscars pulled in forty million live viewers, making it one of the biggest television events in the world. This Sunday, by comparison: Just 9.8 million. More than a 75% fall:
The prestigious awards show drew an average of 9.8 million viewers for ABC on Sunday, according to early Nielsen numbers. That’s 58% below the ratings from last year’s show, the previous lowest-rated Oscars, which brought in in 23.6 million viewers.
Lots of people will have their own explanation for this, of course, and a very popular take amongst those of us who despair of lecturing from woke celebrities will be that people just don’t want to tune in any more to listen to woke celebrities lecturing us. And, of course, there’s almost certainly something to that. Indeed, Sunday night’s ceremony had more than its fair share of woke preaching, as Piers Morgan points out in an entertaining column on the subject:
Regina King was filmed walking through the train station into what resembled a large waiting room housing a handful of socially distanced nominees and their guests.
She tripped as she reached the podium and then announced: ‘I know a lot of you people at home want to reach for your remote when you feel like Hollywood is preaching to you.’
Yes, we do, which is why Oscars’ ratings have collapsed in recent years as the woke lectures have increased in both volume and scale of sanctimony.
But that didn’t stop Regina, who wanted us to know that if the George Floyd trial verdict had gone the wrong way in Minnesota last week ‘I may have traded in my heels for marching boots.’
That’s certainly part of the reason for the fall in viewers, but it’s not the only reason. There’s easily more than 9.8m Americans, and people from the rest of the world, after all, who can think of nothing they’d like better than an evening of Woke Preaching. And the Oscars is probably a more glamourous place to get it than the alternatives, like watching an Ivana Bacik speech in the Seanad.
No, a bigger problem for Hollywood and the Oscars is that major live TV events are on the decline, globally. Most of us just don’t watch that much live television, these days, preferring, as we do, to stream or watch DVDs or browse the internet. We live in a much more fragmented culture, where the idea of a ubiquitous TV event is largely confined to major sporting occasions, like the world cup final, or the Superbowl (and even that is showing a decline in recent years).
There’s also the fact that there simply haven’t been many big movies over the past year, because of lockdown shutting down the Cinemas here, and in large parts of the world. Think of a major blockbuster from the past twelve months, and you’ll probably be stumped. The big entertainment events these days aren’t movies, but TV shows and box sets. Game of Thrones changed the world, in that respect.
At just 10m viewers, though, you wonder how long the Oscars will last as a “major” event. It could be heading the way of the Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis, if this decline continues.