2021 Oscars Ratings Fall to All-Time Low, Drop 58% from Last Year

by Joe Rutland
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If you heard a giant thud in TV land on Sunday night, then it was from the Oscars’ ratings just taking a colossal drop in viewership.

On Monday, Nielsen Live+Same Day preliminary national numbers indicate a 58 percent drop from the 2020 show. An average of 9.85 million viewers decided to tune in for the Academy Awards show that recognizes the best in the movie industry. That’s a 13.75 million drop-off in viewership from 2020.

The Oscars, which was carried by ABC, did not have a main host again for the third straight year. It also was a stripped-down version of past Oscar shows because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Oscars Numbers Collapse In Important Demographics Range

In a key demographic area, Variety reported that adults in the 18-49 range only popped a 1.9 percent rating. That’s a 64 percent drop from 2020.

Let’s contrast that with previous numbers. The Oscars in 2019 had a 7.7 rating in adults 18-49 and 29.6 million viewers. While up 12 percent from 2018, that viewership figure represented the second-smallest audience ever for an Academy Awards telecast at the time. 2018 delivered the previous smallest viewership tally with 26.5 million viewers.

But the Oscars slide is just an extension of awards shows simply not drawing eyeballs to the TV screen. The Golden Globes and the Grammy Awards also saw rating drops. It appears that these type of shows might be losing their appeal to viewers.

What was up against the Oscars on Sunday night? ESPN had a regular-season “Sunday Night Baseball” game between the San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers. Other networks had regular programming on against the awards show.

Some Oscars Viewers Decided Baseball Was Better Than Awards Show

On social media, some viewers found themselves changing over from the Oscars to baseball. The Dodgers ended up losing 8-7 in 11 innings to the Padres. The game itself lasted five-plus hours and saw San Diego rally in the ninth inning from being down 7-1.

Some people probably found the ending to the Oscars rather strange. Actor Joaquin Phoenix was delivering the Best Actor award, but the way he did it caught people’s eyes.

Phoenix, known for playing Johnny Cash in “Walk the Line,” simply read the Best Actor nominees. Upon finishing, he announced that Anthony Hopkins was the winner and quickly offered a thanks and good night to viewers and the socially distanced crowd.

A lot of people believed the late Chadwick Boseman was going to win the honor. But that did not happen as Oscar voters chose Hopkins.

Bob Hope Leads Number Of Times To Host Academy Awards

Oscars shows have had many hosts over the years. Late actor-comedian Bob Hope hosted the awards show 19 times, followed by Billy Crystal with nine times, late talk-show host Johnny Carson with five, and Whoopi Goldberg and late actor Jack Lemmon with four times each.

While Oscars officials are still recovering from Sunday night’s show, they probably are looking at the ratings with some concern. Viewers appear to be shying away from awards shows. As they stop watching, that affects a network’s advertising revenue. Will awards shows stop being aired on network television? That remains to be seen.

But numbers like those from Sunday night’s Oscars show definitely start up a bunch of conversations.

Outsider.com