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Published on March 12, 2017 | by Brandon Vieira     Photography by ABC Network


Oscars 2017: Diversity rises as ratings fall

Oscar ratings were at a nine-year low according to Nielson, which measures audience size. And that’s in spite of the awards show addressing previous criticism of #OscarsSoWhite.

While there is no clear reason as to why the ratings continue to drop, Ksenia Stassiouk, head of production at Scythia Films Inc. said she believes it’s because the academy has not been listening to what the public wants.

“A shake-up of the committee is needed and would help make the voters a more well-rounded group.  This way films that are actually popular with the public are respected and considered by the academy,” said Stassiouk who has worked in the film industry for over four years.

According to Deadline Hollywood, six African-American themed films and one Indian themed film were nominated in various categories.  There were also 10 black actors and filmmakers nominated as well.

Nielson ratings reported that the Oscars averaged 32.9 million viewers, down four per cent from last year and losing almost 10 million viewers from the 2014 broadcast.

University of Guelph-Humber film studies professor Natalie Evans said the academy would benefit from having more diverse members with different backgrounds and different points of view.  She said this would ensure that more diverse films are considered and evaluated when picking the nominees.

However, Evans said these changes need to happen soon because the academy’s importance among movie watchers has been diminished.

“I think partially people have questioned [the academy’s] legitimacy, in terms of having a bias in favour of certain directors or types of movies nominated,” said Evans.

Some believe a problem is that many of the same actors and directors are nominated year after year.  One example includes Meryl Streep who, according to Metro UK, has been nominated for 20 academy awards.

Second-year student and film production hopeful Kathryn Johnson not only questions the legitimacy of the Oscars but also thinks they have become irrelevant, especially with younger generations.

“People are realizing Hollywood has a lot of issues.  Hollywood and the academy are getting a little bit outdated with their gender and racial roles.  They are just not as important to young people anymore,” said Johnson.

The biggest drop in the ratings came from their youth demographic, ages 18-24.

Third-year business student, Jishnu Menon, said this decline in the youth demographic may have little to do with the actual content and more to do with the way young people consume media.

“Very few young people are watching media content on cable anymore.  If [ABC] could live-stream the broadcast on YouTube or some other website I think they would attract more people,” said Menon.

Menon also said most people his age don’t want to watch the whole four-hour broadcast and would just rather watch the highlights on YouTube and follow along on their Snapchat and Twitter feeds.

Evans agrees that digital changes would benefit the broadcast but said the problem is the academy represents Hollywood and until Hollywood changes, there isn’t a way for the Oscars to change.

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is a journalism student with a passion for TV, movies and WWE. He enjoys reading and writing stories that get people talking. He hopes to one day work for the WWE in some sort of journalistic capacity.

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