Oscar Ratings

“Oscar Ratings Crash To All-Time Low; Viewership Falls Under 10M For First Time Ever”: https://bit.ly/3eyc9IL

This is what happens when you lose touch with your audience.

Confronted with a decline in awards show ratings the TV industry has singled out once in a lifetime events as the cause. Nothing could be more untrue. If anything, Covid-19 would make people more prone to watching. They just don’t want to watch this.

And this situation reminds me of the record companies. Who felt that Napster was all about people stealing, refusing to acknowledge the flaws inherent in their business model. It’s hard to think back to an era where the public had to pay fifteen bucks for one good track on a lengthy CD, but that is what was going on in the nineties, and as soon as the public found an alternative, people exercised it.

Same deal with visual entertainment. There are no ads on Netflix. And it’s about story. Who wants to watch self-congratulatory two-dimensional actors for three plus hours? Well, we’ve got our answer, not many.

The show had no gravitas. That was it’s only traditional pull. That you were peeking inside an exclusive event. But if you attended last night’s soiree at Union Station…you couldn’t wait to go out for a smoke, to the bathroom, to sit there for all that time was akin to being at an endless religious service, and just like most people no longer believe in God, most people don’t believe in movie stars either.

The Oscars had a chance to change the paradigm, but the organization refused to do so. As for the minor differences from previous shows…you have to address the carcass, otherwise you’re doomed.

So what have we learned?

The masses won’t watch anything with commercials. And no one DVRs live events (well, except for a de minimis number of diehards we can ignore). So we’ve got the worst of both worlds here, endless commercials in a one time event that has no delayed viewing interest and no repeatability.

Movie stars are now small. Sure, there are inane youngsters caught up in the “glamour” and the outfits, but that’s a very small percentage of the population.

Everything is niche these days, and if you try to go broad, you lose the essence.

Lead or play to the audience. It wasn’t like last night’s show was a must-see extravaganza, testing all limits, destroying what came before for something new. No one who didn’t see last night’s show felt they missed anything. If it’s a live event, it must be special, it must be like the concerts of yore, if you weren’t there, you missed something.

The audience must feel it is involved, that it has something at stake, otherwise it’s just a show. As for caring who wins… That game was eviscerated with the MTV Video Music Awards back in the eighties. It’s about the show, not the awards. And everyone forgets who won anyway, unless they do something outrageous during their acceptance speech.

There was no train-wreck value, nothing you couldn’t take your eyes from. They do call it “show” business, but there was no show involved. Some of the criticism was that it felt like a banquet at the end of a business convention, I must say that’s true.

But the problem runs deeper, the movies have lost touch with their hold on America. If the business is one of moving the culture, then green light more of those pictures. Instead, there are a few highbrow pics trotted out for these awards shows that most of the public ignores and never sees. As for Frances McDormand saying we need to see “Nomadland” on the big screen… Why? It already played. And is available on demand on Hulu. What could be better? Go to the theatre, why?

Just like music must be heard on an overpriced CD. Doesn’t the Academy realized the public has moved on to something better?

As for where it’s moved, Clayton Christensen said the disruptor is always cheaper and inferior, but good enough. But then it gets better and supersedes the original. In other words, TV used to be crappy, cheap but crappy. Now Netflix is cheap and better than the movies, and the only people who don’t understand this are those in the Academy!

This is fascinating to watch. The problem was never diversity, the problem was the product.

Yes, I hate to say this, but last night’s show could be relabeled the Woke Awards. I’ve got no problem with boosting women and people of color, but if you watched the show that seemed to be its focus, overcompensating to the point of losing touch with America. This is what happens when you listen to criticism and adjust. Everyone who plays online knows that you don’t do that, certain people can never be satisfied. More women and people of color on both sides of the camera? Excellent! “Black Panther” showed there is an untapped demand. But last night’s show was more like an Oberlin reunion than a Saturday night at the multiplex.

And Questlove… He’s the Dave Grohl of hip-hop. Safe and lovable. Can’t they get anybody else, as opposed to the usual suspect?

And if you know a great swath of the public is turned off by the performers’ politics, why did you start off with them?

I’m not saying to tone it down so much as to understand the arc, entice your audience and hold on to it.

Then again, none of this can be said because the woke police have made it so no one can comment on certain issues. Men can’t weigh in on rape. White people can’t talk about issues of color. There’s a prescribed agenda, a set of rules everyone must adhere to, irrelevant of their inner beliefs. This is how the Democrats lost control of D.C. Trump came along and said the unsayable, spoke to the underrepresented. Forget that his opinions were heinous, forget that he was the worst president of all time, not only not addressing the big issues, but pushing the nation backwards, the truth is he tapped into dissatisfaction, which Hillary certainly did not. I don’t want to litigate the past, unlike Fox News, but what Hillary was promising was four more years of what we already had, and that was not appealing to great swaths of the population. Which is the same thing we’ve got with this Oscar telecast. No matter how much they tell us it’s different, we tune in and it’s the same damn show, one we’ve rejected previously.

The truth is it’s unfixable. As a result of being on network TV with advertising, as long as the Academy wants that check, the telecast is doomed. As for playing to the one who pays the bills… Look how well that turned out in the music business, the labels were driven by their relationships with retail…and then retail ceased to exist, turned out the customers didn’t want to go to a store to purchase overpriced CDs.

But the public does want to pay for music, just in a different way. Streaming has escalated recorded music revenue. People will pay attention if you modernize your product and its distribution.

But the truth is on streaming services the single rules, not the album. And acts drop a lot more product. The systems of old no longer apply. And the labels have been dragged into the future, even though the aged artists keep complaining that someone moved their cheese, as if we could go back to a business model that did not work for customers.

Movies… It turns out people want more of them, which is why Netflix with its doubled-down production slate satiates the public.

Turns out people want long form series.

Turns out documentaries can triumph, they just cannot be preachy.

Is there a market for superhero/cartoon movies? Of course, but the truth is the hip-hop/pop of the Spotify top 50 is shrinking in market share.

Thus we have the great bifurcation, between what was and what is, between yesterday and today. There hasn’t been a generation gap this big since the sixties, but the self-satisfied baby boomers believe they’re inherently hip and know it all and are in touch.

For twenty years now everything’s been up for grabs, all institutions and systems have been in play. Why should it be any different for the movies?

The second most interesting story of the show was how Chadwick Boseman didn’t win. Turns out the producers couldn’t fathom this, placed the Best Actor award at the end for a feel good finish. But it turns out the producers were out of touch with the voters, and Anthony Hopkins won. This is not the way the Oscars are supposed to work, the sentimental favorite is supposed to win.

But the most interesting story of the Oscars telecast is the horrible ratings, a 58% decline overall, a 64.2% decline in the cherished 18-49 demo.

The 18-49 group doesn’t remember an era when the Oscars were a must-see, they don’t even remember an era when going to the movies was a must-do!

If this were a sports team, the public would be up in arms, people would lose their jobs.

But the Oscars is like politics, always behind the times, fighting the last war, to the point where the public has given up. Yes, the parties lose and then they just do the same damn thing over again the next time. As for the congresspeople continuing to pay fealty to Trump… Let me see, did anybody watching 1/6 truly believe it was a safe rally where no one was hurt and all the bad actors were antifa members? We’re supposed to disbelieve our eyes and ears? This works for some people, after all, 9.85 million people actually watched this show.

But most didn’t.

Play to them.

Comments are closed