Published on March 24, 2016 | by Christopher Coletta Photography by Disney | ABC Television Group (Some rights reserved)0
Oscars ratings lowest in years
Not even Leonardo DiCaprio’s first Oscar win could pull in viewers for the 88th Academy Awards. They had their lowest ratings in eight years.
Oscars 2016, hosted by Chris Rock, aired on Walt Disney’s ABC network on Feb. 28, resulting in 34.3 million total viewers according to Nielsen. That’s six per cent fewer viewers or nearly two million from last year’s telecast, hosted by Neil Patrick Harris.
Chris Rock opened the show by immediately confronting the controversy over the all-white nominees in acting categories.
“Is Hollywood racist?” Rock asked. “You’re damn right, Hollywood is racist.”
While there is no clear-cut factor behind the dip in viewership, Michael Johnson, a high school film teacher and creator of ReelSchool—a Youtube channel with a variety of videos including movie reviews, tutorials about film theory and history—blamed the low ratings on a lack of diversity.
“The nominees spoke volumes,” he said. “I really think that the racial diversity issue hurt them for sure and I think it is finally catching up to them.”
Johnson said Rock hosting the award show didn’t benefit the issue either.
“Funny guy, but not the most relevant comedian out there today by any means,” he said. “I think there’s a lot of people out there that are better qualified and would have been funnier and may have even brought in more people to watch.”
Warren Schlote, a student at the University of Guelph-Humber, thinks differently. He thought Rock handled the controversy perfectly and even added to the show.
“I personally think it was all in good fun and especially the fact that it was a person of colour to give commentary on it I think it was more effective and more poignant,” Schlote said.
Schlote was the winner of three out of five awards at Guelph-Humber’s first annual film festival this year—best feature, best director and best cinematography—for his film “Bombed” about the misconception of spray painting in Toronto.
Despite the controversy over race this year, Schlote said the low viewership could be caused by a change in media.
“A lot of people are moving away from movies these days,” he said. “There’s a lot of interest in TV shows, online media and film and movies just don’t have as much importance as they used to.”
Nicole Hutchinson, a Humber College student, said she didn’t watch the Oscars due to her lack of knowledge of the films nominated. She said she hasn’t watched the award show for a while now for this reason.
“If they nominated movies watched, I would totally watch the show, but if I don’t know about the nominations, then there’s no point,” Hutchinson said.
Johnson said the academy must make its content more accessible to draw in more demographics that include all diversities. He said the Academy Awards could be seen as teachers. His philosophy on teaching is it’s the students’ job to learn, but if teachers don’t make it approachable, the students won’t learn anything.
The show also featured a much talked-about moment when Vice President Joe Biden introduced pop star Lady Gaga’s musical performance as part of a broader appeal to end sexual assault on college campuses.
This is the second Academy Awards Rock has hosted, the first being in 2005 racking in 42.1 million viewers.