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Academy Award Ratings Hit An All-Time Low

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The 2021 Oscars broadcast failed to attract many viewers.
(Wikimedia Commons)
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The pandemic forced the producers of Sunday’s Academy Awards show to scale back everywhere. There was no gridlocked red carpet, no fancy afterparties and even a venue change — from Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre to downtown’s Union Station.

Those weren’t the only things missing from this year’s broadcast. Television viewers, just like MIA best actor winner Anthony Hopkins, largely skipped the Academy Awards.

A year ago — before the pandemic — Oscar ratings fell to an all-time low. But yesterday's estimated TV audience was even worse: down nearly 60% from the 2020 broadcast, with an estimated audience of fewer than 10 million.

Of course, the Oscars aren’t alone when it comes to cratering ratings. The Emmys, Grammys and Tonys all went virtual, and their ratings collapsed about as much as the Academy Awards’ audience did.

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Perhaps fans missed seeing celebrities in their fanciest get-ups and the telecast's usual set pieces. Maybe they also missed this year’s nominated movies. With theaters closed and studios postponing most major releases, none of 2020’s best picture nominees was anything close to a commercial hit.

In her acceptance speech, Frances McDormand, winner of both the best actress trophy and the best picture award as the star and producer of Nomadland, implored everyone to return to movie theaters.

"Please, watch our movie on the largest screen possible," she said. "And one day, very, very soon, take everyone you know into a theater, shoulder to shoulder, in that dark space and watch every film that is represented here tonight."

Maybe she should've asked everyone to return to the Oscars, too.