The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has come under scrutiny the last number of years for various reasons regarding its annual broadcast of the Oscars ceremony. The mounting backlash has coincided with historically low viewership, which hit an all-time low last year during the 90th Academy Awards. In an attempt to reconcile the criticism and declining numbers, the Academy has been announcing a number of change-ups leading into the 91st Oscars ceremony on February 24th (some changes they seem to be sticking to while others have been retracted entirely).
The President of ABC recently let it be known that coming out of last year, one of the Academy’s goals heading into 2019 was to shorten the length of the broadcast by an hour (last year it ran four hours). One of the ways in which the Academy said they were going to reach their goal was by pushing off a few of the Oscar categories to commercial breaks; however, at the time the Academy did not reveal which categories those would be. Well, now we know.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the affected categories will be Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Live Action Short as well as Best Makeup and Hairstyling.
While the governing body of the Academy voted to approve said changes, all is not lost for fans hoping to catch the presentation of these awards. In an email to its members today, Academy President John Bailey said:
“With the help of our partners at ABC, we also will stream these four award presentations online for our global fans to enjoy, live, along with our audience. Fans will be able to watch on Oscar.com and on the Academy’s social channels. The live stream is a first for our show, and will help further awareness and promotion of these award categories.”
The president doubled down on the Academy’s respect for these aspects of filmmaking, informing Academy members that the speeches of the winners from each category will be aired later during the broadcast.
As for the rationale behind the move, Bailey explained:
“Viewing patterns for the Academy Awards are changing quickly in our current multi-media world, and our show must also evolve to successfully continue promoting motion pictures to a worldwide audience. This has been our core mission since we were established 91 years ago—and it is the same today.”
The article also mentions how the Academy plans to rotate each year which categories get bumped to the commercial breaks.
Here is my take on the matter:
How much time then is the Academy truly saving by presenting these categories during commercial breaks, only to air the winning speeches later during the broadcast? What remains of the presentation then is only the announcements of each of the nominees and that is only a couple minutes long at worst.
It seems odd that in order to rake in more viewers, the Academy would force their already dedicated viewership to tune into an additional broadcasting feed in order to make sure that they catch the entire ceremony. It seems counter-intuitive. The Academy keeps showing the world that they have no idea what they want the Oscars to be: a popular television event or a genuine examination of each year’s achievements in film because clearly it cannot be both.
What do you think of these announced changes? Do you mind not seeing these specific categories presented at the Oscars? Or do you feel the Academy made the wrong choices here? I would very much love to hear your thoughts, so feel free to hit me up in the comments below!