In this handout photo by AMPAS (LR), Peter Spears, Frances McDormand, Chloe Zhao, Mollye Asher and Dan Janvey, best picture winners for “Nomadland”, pose in the press room during the 93rd Annual Academy Awards at Union Station on April 25, 2021 in Los Angeles, California.
Matt Petit | Getty Images Entertainment | Getty Images
The 2021 Oscars were watched by the smallest audience the awards show has ever received.
On par with the Emmys and Golden Globes appearances during the pandemic, the Academy Awards struggled to attract mainstream viewers.
Only 9.85 million viewers watched Sunday’s ceremony, where Searchlight’s “Nomadland” won the grand prize and Netflix had the most wins. That’s a nearly 59% decrease from the 23.6 million viewers who turned on their televisions for the show last year. This is evident from early national figures published by Nielsen.
The Academy’s third consecutive hostless show got a rating of 1.9 among adults between 18 and 49, a major demographic for advertisers, a 64% decrease from 2020.
The decline in both metrics is not entirely surprising, given that awards shows have generally seen a decline in viewership over the past few years. After a year in which cinemas were closed due to the pandemic and so few mainstream films were nominated, this result was highly anticipated.
Even so, Disney Advertising Sales’ ad inventory was sold out prior to the 93rd Oscars broadcast. Brands like Verizon and Expedia ran major new campaigns on Sunday. So did General Motors’ Cadillac, which ran ads for its first electric crossover vehicle, Lyriq. Other advertisers were Google, Rolex, Airbnb, Apple, P&G, Panera and Subway.
Oscars 2021 coverage by CNBC
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The evening was full of historic premieres that shed a bright light on various talent in the film industry, but that wasn’t enough to attract strong audiences.
Additionally, the Hollywood production team behind the event did little to seduce audiences or generate interest in social media. Indeed, following the decision by the Academy of Arts and Sciences for Feature Films to postpone the best image announcement, historically at the end of the show, before the two awards for best actor, the ceremony was fraught with backlash.