Oscar slump: Academy Awards ratings hit all-time low

The Oscars television audience fell 20 percent from a year ago to its lowest point in the show's 92-year history.

    Joaquin Phoenix holds his Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role for the film Joker at the 92nd Academy Awards in Hollywood, California [Lucas Jackson/Reuters]
    Joaquin Phoenix holds his Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role for the film Joker at the 92nd Academy Awards in Hollywood, California [Lucas Jackson/Reuters]

    Sunday's Oscars struck two notable milestones. In a sign of evolution, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awarded its best picture prize to a non-English-language film for the first time in its 92-year history. But domestic ratings for the barrier-breaking show were also the lowest ever.   

    United States viewership dropped 20 percent from a year ago, to an average TV audience of 23.6 million total viewers, according to Walt Disney Company-owned ABC, citing data from Nielsen.

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    ABC broadcast the ceremony, which did not have a host for the second year in a row and included performances by Janelle Monae and Eminem. The show's presenters included Steve Martin, Chris Rock, Mindy Kaling and Salma Hayek.

    This year the Academy was widely criticised for not nominating any women for the best director category, and the ceremony included jokes and remarks about that exclusion and the list of 20 acting nominees that included just one person of colour.

    Oscars

    The South Korean social satire, Parasite, made history by becoming the first non-English language film to win best picture. Director Bong Joon Ho's movie also won three other awards including best director, beating out veterans such as Martin Scorsese. The movie's wins made history in both the Hollywood and South Korean film industries. The class satire is the first non-English-language film to win the best picture in the history of the Academy Awards, and is the first South Korean movie to ever win an Oscar.

    Renee Zellweger won the best actress award for her performance as Judy Garland in the musical biopic, Judy, while Joaquin Phoenix won best actor for his performance in Joker. 

    The average unit cost for a 30-second TV advertisement during the ceremony ranged from $1.69m to $2.27m, according to the research firm SQAD. ABC owns broadcast rights for the Oscars through 2028.

    The ceremony drew negative reviews from the Hollywood press. Dominic Patten described it as a "lackluster circus" in Deadline Hollywood.

    "Maybe every award show doesn't need a host? This one sure did," wrote Daniel Fienberg in the Hollywood Reporter.

    "The structure and fluidity that an emcee can help provide was exactly what this telecast was missing, which doesn't mean that a Billy Crystal or Ricky Gervais would have solved everything that was weird about what was a telecast without a clear theme, message, agenda or cohering purpose," Fienberg said.

    SOURCE: Reuters news agency