The 2018 Academy Awards, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel on March 4, clocked in record low ratings. That was despite appearances from many of the usual A-list suspects, a show stopping musical number from the star of "This Is Me," pretty funny running gags, and all the stunning red carpet glamour.
The ratings didn't just sputter, they "fell off a cliff," according to Variety.
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. 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.
Following the autopsy report, Disney-ABC Television Group executives sat down with leaders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and decided on a few changes they hope will keep the ceremony relevant. The academy will now be rewarding "popular" films in its annual telecast. It's their first new category since 2001. What exactly does that mean for the contest?
The message may have been muddled, but the Academy’s intentions were clear. At one point in its history, Oscar voters routinely named blockbusters such as “Titanic” or “Gladiator” as the year’s best. That’s changed. Recent best picture victors such as “Moonlight,” “Spotlight,” and the 2018 winner “The Shape of Water” have been firmly ensconced in the arthouse world, whereas well-reviewed hit films such as “Guardians of the Galaxy” or “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” have only been recognized for their technical achievements. (Variety)
The board also voted to move the telecast up to Feb. 9, 2020, to air several less popular awards categories to the commercial breaks, and to edit some of the winning moments. The show will also be an hour shorter.
“We have heard from many of you about improvements needed to keep the Oscars and our Academy relevant in a changing world,” Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences president John Bailey and CEO Dawn Hudson wrote in a note to members. “The Board of Governors took this charge seriously.”
Considering the disaster ending to the 2017 Oscars when, just after midnight, Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway gave the Best Picture award to the wrong film, a makeover may not be such a bad idea.