After years of dwindling viewership numbers, the Academy Awards on ABC have bounced back and grew more than 50% in viewership, earning a reported 15.36 million viewers, according to numbers shared by Variety. Last year's event drew a historic low 10.5 million viewers, numbers which were relatively understandable, given that the event was held during the middle of the pandemic and celebrated a year in which a number of highly anticipated films had their releases pushed back significantly. Given how the ceremony was mired in backlash ahead of the event, it's unclear if the decisions made by The Academy and ABC ultimately paid off.
Variety breaks down the numbers from recent shows, "The 2021 mid-pandemic, host-less Oscars ceremony drew a record-low 10.5 million viewers and a 2.2 rating among the key adults 18-49 demographic on Sunday, April 25th, according to finalized Live + Same Day data. The year before that, the 2020 emcee-less telecast -- which aired on February 9th, a more typical date for the awards show -- averaged 23.6 million viewers. In 2019, the first year in decades the show went without a host, the 91st Oscars brought in 29.6 million viewers."
Given the negative trajectory of viewership numbers in recent years, ahead of the ceremony, The Academy revealed that eight categories were going to be presented prior to the live broadcast and edited back into the program later that night, much to the dismay of the entire industry. These awards largely focused on the craft teams for the nominated films, such as Best Editing, Best Production Design, and Best Hair and Makeup. Sources close to the situation, however, claimed that ABC made demands that the event be shortened or risk being pulled from broadcast altogether.
A number of reasons may have factored into why the event drew in more numbers, including it being hosted by Amy Schumer, Regina Hall, and Wanda Sykes after going without a host for so many years. Or, knowing that eight awards had been cut from the ceremony, audiences may have merely been curious about how the show itself would be impacted by these cuts. Given the rise in ratings, it's possible that these categories will continue to be omitted in future ceremonies.
Likely another draw to this year's event was that, with more movies being released in theaters in 2021 than in 2020, the films being spotlighted were more well-known, such as Dune earning the most nominations of any movie of the year, which has earned $400 million worldwide. Given the number of shocking events that unfolded at this year's event, surely audiences will be tuning in next year to see what sort of surprises the ceremony has in store for viewers.
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