The Oscars Announce Desperate Changes to Win Back Viewers, but Will This Work?

Annual Academy Awards ceremony has been dying for years; group is now addressing its biggest problems in all the wrong ways

Image Credit: ABC / Adam Rose

The Oscars are making some big changes before the next televised ceremony.

One of those changes will be a new category that recognizes achievement in “popular film.”

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced upcoming changes in a memo to all voting members.

Its president, John Bailey, and CEO Dawn Hudson announced in the memo that the Academy Awards would be adding the previously mentioned category, that it would air at an earlier date in 2020 (February 9 then; and February 24 next year), and that the show will keep to a three-hour broadcast.

The ratings for the last Oscars ceremony were way down — and these changes are no doubt an effort to win back viewers; but none of these will do much.

A “popular films” category proves how out of touch the Oscars are, really. Most ticket buyers don’t recognize the movies they mention during the ceremony, so now they’re trying to throw those people a bone; but the category only further emphasizes the disconnect of the ceremony.

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On top of that, the Oscars changed its rules in recent years to recognize more mainstream films by expanding the Best Picture race to 10 movies.

That did nothing for ratings — so why would this?

Nobody cares about the earlier date, either, so why that would even be announced through a memo as a major change is a mystery.

And finally, a three-hour broadcast is still beyond ridiculous for most people.

The truth is that people stopped watching the Oscars because they just aren’t relevant anymore. The films are mostly niche and unpopular; the voting body is out of touch; the ceremony is way too long; and people just don’t need to watch celebrities pat themselves on the backs and hijack microphones and stages to make political points when there are more options today for entertainment than ever before.

These changes feel more like the last gasp of a dying Hollywood tradition than anything else.

(photo credit, article image: The Oscars, CC BY-ND 2.0, by ABC / Adam Rose)

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