Mr. Soderbergh recognized that there is only so much that producers can do.
“People’s decision-making process about whether or not to watch doesn’t seem tied to whether the show is fantastic or not,” he said, citing the strong critical response to this year’s Grammys, which were particularly risky by Megan Thee Stallion and Cardi B.
The Oscars show, on the other hand, peaked in 1998 when 57.2 million people tuned in to watch the box office juggernaut “Titanic” drive to the best-picture win. Since the turn of the century, 2004 was the year with the highest ratings, when the academy honored another box-office hit: “Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King”.
Analysts point to a variety of challenges driving the decline. Old broadcast networks like ABC are not as relevant, especially to young people. The ceremonies, even if limited to a relatively brisk three hours, are too long for contemporary attention spans. Last year’s Oscars ran for three hours and 36 minutes (the equivalent of 864 videos on TikTok).
Why stroll through the show when you can only see snippets on Twitter and Instagram?
Additionally, the Oscars have become overly polished and predictable. “The Oscars used to be the only time you saw movie stars in your living room, and very often it was a scream,” said Ms. Basinger, the Hollywood historian. “Some seemed a little drunk. Some wore strange clothes. A few had hair on their faces. “
Increasingly, the ceremonies are less about entertainment honors and more about progressive politics, which inevitably annoys those in the audience who disagree. A recently produced producer of the Oscars, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss confidential metrics, said minute-by-minute analysis of the post-show ratings revealed “swaths” of people turning off their televisions as celebrities started talking about politics.
And there are simply awards that show tiredness. There are at least 18 television ceremonies held every year including the MTV Video Music Awards, the BET Awards, the Teen Choice Awards, the Academy of Country Music Awards, the Billboard Music Awards, the CMT Music Awards, the Tony Awards, the People’s Choice Awards, the Kids’ Choice Awards and Independent Spirit Awards.
As audience ratings for the upcoming show are expected to drop, ABC has asked for 30 seconds of advertising time to be $ 2 million, a decrease of around 13 percent from last year’s starting price. Some loyal advertisers (Verizon) are returning, but others (Ferrero Chocolates) are not.
“We really don’t get a lot of interest in advertisers,” said Michelle Chong, director of planning at Atlanta-based agency Fitzco.
Tiffany Hsu contributed to the coverage.