Award shows gained a newfound relevance in January when Oprah Winfrey delivered a widely-lauded speech condemning sexism and sexual harassment while accepting a lifetime achievement award during the Golden Globes. But despite her inspired performance, the Globes suffered a 5% ratings dip compared with the prior year's broadcast. Analysts attributed the drop to the continued cord-cutting that has been weighing on cable TV viewership stats...but it's impossible to rule out the possibility that the event's stridently political overtones prompted a large sliver of American audiences to tune out.
This problem was not unique to the Globes: last night's Oscars broadcast recorded the largest year-over-year audience decline in the event's history, despite the excitement surrounding how Hollywood's elite might choose to acknowledge the "#MeToo" movement that was born out of a spate of exposes about powerful Hollywood figures, most notably the disgraced former studio head Harvey Weinstein.
As Bloomberg reports, viewership for the 90th Academy Awards saw a nearly 20% drop, despite what many reviewers said was a strong hosting performance by late-night talk show host (and perennial Trump antagonist) Jimmy Kimmel.
The overnight rating for the show, an estimate of the percentage of homes tuned it to the program, fell to 18.9, down about 16 percent from preliminary data a year ago. “The Shape of Water,” from 21st Century Fox Inc., was voted best picture.
Bloomberg blamed the decline on cord-cutting and the fact that many of the nominees for the night's highest honor - best picture - grossed less than $100 million at the box office, suggesting that American audiences weren't familiar with many of the individual nominees.
Viewing of live events, such as awards shows and sports, has declined along with the rest of TV’s audience. Only two of the pictures that featured in last night’s program, the horror movie “Get Out” and the World War II drama “Dunkirk,” tallied more than $100 million in domestic box-office sales...
Per the Wrap, last year’s Oscars landed a 22.4 rating in Nielsen’s overnight numbers, which count 56 metered markets. That was down 4.3% from 2016’s very preliminary numbers. Meanwhile, the 2017 Oscars eventually tabulated 32.9 million total viewership which was down 4% from the Rock-hosted ceremony. According to these preliminary numbers, that's one of its largest drops on record, per Decider.
Furthermore, the 18.9 rating would be the worst-ever recorded - though this is based on preliminary data.
Of course, not everyone watches for the political commentary and virtue-signaling...