Arts & Entertainment

2020 Oscars Ratings Hit All-Time Low

Labrina VanCliff 

Maybe it’s time to bring back the host! Averaging 23.6 million total viewers, ABC’s broadcast of the 2020 Oscars awards reached an all-time low in ratings. The 92ndannual Oscars made unwanted history Sunday night for the smallest audience the Academy Award has ever received. Kicking off the show with no host, the three – hour and 35- minute show, scored a 5.3 rating amongst the adult age demographic of 18-49.


Steve Martin and Chris Rock. Photographed by Kevin Winter

Going host-less for the second year in a row, the Academy Award was held earlier than usual, which may have prevented the show from creating buzz. According to Tom O’Neil, founder of, “It was too predictable, too white and too boring.” Dominic Patten from Deadline also stated, “the only suspense of the evening was for best picture.”


The news of the decline in views isn’t very surprising, as award show numbers have generally been declining over the past few years. According to the Hollywood Reporter, “Fox’s Emmy show dropped 32 percent in overall viewers, while the Golden Globes fell by 4 percent.” Over the past few years with the explosion of streaming services, live television broadcasting has dropped drastically.

For a ceremony with a show-stopping opening and surprise performance of “Lose Yourself” from Eminem, the Oscars featured as many ideas as possible to showcase the magic of cinema; however, it failed to translate those ideas into the magic of television ratings. According to Nielsen  company, “last year’s Oscars delivered a 7.7 rating in adults 18-49 and 29.6 million viewers, a 20 percent increase from Sunday’s show.”

Bong Joon Ho, Jane Fonda, Kang-Ho Song, Kwak Sin Ae

Bong Joon Ho. Photographed by Kevin Winter

Along with Oscar viewership still hovered at a record low, the diversity of the nominees provided the award show with a rating decrease. According to Nielsen, “the more diverse the major-category nominees are, the larger the audience.” This year’s nominees indicated the lack of change and the slow arrival of diversity.

Historically, the supporting categories are typically where actors and actresses of color shine but not this year. Undervaluing the work of performers of color, the nominations of this year’s Oscars have shut out many groups. According to The View talk host Joy Behar, ” the Oscars wasn’t very diverse in terms of nominees.”

An evening filled with predictable wins and polarizing acceptance speeches, the most prestigious award show also made history, awarding the best picture award to South Korean film “Parasite”. A first Best Picture recipient not in English, the “Parasite” snagged four wins including Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best International Feature Film.

92nd Annual Academy Awards, Show, Los Angeles, USA - 09 Feb 2020

Janelle Monae and Dancers. Photographed by Rob Latour

Fellow winners included Disney and Fox, Neon, and Sony as they took home four awards, which is the most for any film studio. The ceremony also included other highlights such as many music performances and big name wins. Winning for his role in “Once Upon a Time”, Brad Pitt took home the best supporting actor.

While the Oscars was the most-watched show of the awards season, the promise of a host-less show couldn’t save Hollywood’s big night. Sure there were surprises, but the show was largely predictable. The Oscars was considered the biggest flop of award show history.

Over the next couple of years, it’s possible to see the Academy and ABC come together to figure out a strategy for viewer increase. After a tank in viewership, the plan for tweaks and fixes is in full effect. Could the Academy and ABC pull it off again for the 2021 Oscars?

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