2021 Oscars Leave People In Shock


Chris Pizzello

Left to right: Mia Neal, Jamika Wilson, and Sergio Lopez-Rivera, winners of the award for best makeup and hairstyling for “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” pose in the press room at the Oscars on Sunday, April 25, 2021, at Union Station in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, Pool, courtesy of CNN)

Annie Shafran, Editor-in-Chief

Sunday night, the 93rd Academy Awards were broadcast live from two locations: Union Station and the Dolby Theatre in L.A. The awards show is typically one of the more popular, however, this year there was a 58.3% drop off in viewership, or nearly 13.75 million people (Per Nielsen Live+Same Day preliminary national numbers). Only an average of 9.85 million people tuned in Sunday to watch the awards. For more context, last year’s ceremony had approximately 23.6 million viewers (per the time-zone adjusted fast national charts), while the 2019 Oscars had 29.6 million watchers (Variety). Previously, 2018 held the second-lowest audience for a broadcast of the Academy Awards with 26.5 million viewers. 

The Oscars are not the only award show to be suffering a great loss in viewership. Overall, COVID has brought down the all-around popularity of these awards. Working in tandem with the shortened amount of Hollywood content and media the public has received, award presentations like the Golden Globes and Grammys have also greatly suffered. While not experiencing nearly as great of a loss as the Academy Awards, the 2021 Golden Globes experienced a 2% decrease in viewers, bringing in 6.9 million people. The Grammys plummeted merely 53% in their count of viewers and was the lowest-rated Grammys in history (Variety).

58.3% drop off in viewership, or nearly 13.75 million people…an average of 9.85 million people tuned in Sunday

However, the biggest shock of the Oscars did not come from the astronomically low ratings and audience. It came when the award for best actor was announced. Typically, the last award of the night is best picture of the year. It was speculated that this was done to honor Chadwick Boseman who was projected to win after he “picked up a Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild Award and Critics Choice Award for his performance as Levee in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” had also earned an Oscar,” (USA Today). Everyone was shocked when Anthony Hopkins was announced as the winner for his performance in “The Father”, Even Hopkins himself. He did not attend the ceremony or even give a speech, leading to an abrupt ending to the awards. In his post-show acceptance video, Hopkins did, however, acknowledge his win, as well as Boseman. “At 83 years of age, I did not expect to get this award,” He said. “I’m very grateful to the Academy. Thank you. I want to pay tribute to Chadwick Boseman, who was taken from us far too early. And again, thank you all very much. I did not expect this, so I feel very privileged and honored, thank you.”

With the release of more new media and content, the world of awards shows is bound to pick up again next year. While some shows that suffered a greater loss may take much longer to truly recover, the number of viewers will pick up as the release of new shows, movies, music, etc. increases in the coming months.