Despite viewership continuing to increase since 2021, most Americans seem to not care much about the Oscars.
The 2023 Oscars saw viewership reach almost 19 million viewers according to Statista.
This is almost twice the amount of viewers that watched the Oscars back in 2021. Records show that 10.4 million watched the event, which was the highest point of viewership attendance for that year.
Despite the Oscar’s rising viewership, it remains relatively low in comparison to the viewership a decade ago, which was more than double the max height of viewership this year at over 40 million viewers for the 2013 Oscars.
People are less interested in watching this event for a variety of reasons.
First, the Oscars simply give movie actors and filmmakers a nice way to congratulate themselves. While this is not a bad thing and it is a nice way to promote themselves and their creations, it does pose the question, why should someone like me watch this three-hour event? I’m not nearly as interested in the world of films, so I have never heard of many of the winners before or even seen many of the movies winning awards.
Seth Rogan said this best when he was interviewed by Insider last year, in which he stated, “I don’t care who wins the automobile awards. No other industry expects everyone to care about what awards they shower upon themselves. Maybe people just don’t care. Maybe they did for a while and they stopped caring. And why should they?”
Another reason behind the decline is due to how culture has changed compared to when the Oscars were at their height of popularity.
Awardsdaily pointed out that the 1998 Oscars had its highest viewership ever. This was due to the massive popularity of Titanic which came out the year before. Since then, viewership has been declining with both the Internet and social media, which provide highlights of who won in different categories at the Oscars.
In the same article by Awardsdaily, it states this rising issue for the Oscars: “So much has changed, obviously, including the rise of streaming, a new golden age of great television, flat-screen TVs, and of course, the rise of branded superhero movies that have alienated audiences.”
One other factor the article mentions is that the event started to promote more political views, especially back in 2016 due to the increased tension between former President Trump and the media along with movements like #MeToo rising to prominence. This ultimately has, and in some ways continues, to make many people feel alienated. Why watch an event that promotes something political when the whole point of watching is to get away from politics?
These reasons all contribute to the steady decline of the Oscars’ prominence in our culture today. Most people that I know don’t watch the Oscars at all and only mention it if they see a specific moment from the event that has blown up on social media, like when Harrison Ford reunited with this year’s Oscar winner Ke Huy Quan who won Best Supporting Actor.
This was both interesting and great to watch because many people know the two actors from the iconic movie “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.”
Seeing actors and movies I know winning awards does pique my interest. But most of the time, most of the movies that win or even the actors who win are ones I’ve never seen or heard of.
Movieweb put this best by stating, “While there are some exceptions, as recently seen with blockbuster Best Picture nominees like Top Gun: Maverick and Avatar: The Way of Water, the most common trend is the films that get nominated are smaller character-centric pieces that audiences have not always seen or even heard of.”
I think this is why a decade or two ago the Oscars performed better than today in terms of viewership. Popular, well-known movies were winning awards, which added to the excitement and desire to continue watching.
While attendance is declining, I don’t think this event will be going away anytime soon. It is still the biggest-watched film awards event out of all others, according to the LA Times.
I think it serves its purpose well in awarding those whose passion is in producing films and acting out hard and challenging roles in various stories. But for someone like me, I’ll probably watch something else that catches my interest on the internet.