If recent trends persist, the 93rd Academy Awards will be the least-watched broadcast in the show’s history – and it won’t be particularly close. The Golden Globes and Grammys either rivaled or set new record lows in viewership this year, sinking 63% and 53% from the previous year, respectively. Keeping in tradition with year-over-year declines and the public’s sagging interest in award shows during the pandemic, CivicScience anticipates these trends to continue this Sunday.
According to a recent survey by CivicScience, just 14% of Americans are likely to tune into the broadcast – and a staggering 47% are less likely to watch than they were in years past.
This corresponds with an overall decline in award show interest over the past year, with nearly half of Americans less interested in watching award show broadcasts than they were before the pandemic. Although all age groups are significantly less interested in watching award shows this year, Gen Z viewers are the most likely to be more interested in tuning in this year.
Employment status isn’t too predictive in determining award show viewing habits, but unemployed Americans are slightly more likely than those currently employed to adjust their viewing plans. But for the most part, the declining interest is evenly distributed.
So What Does This Mean for Movie Theaters?
At least for an award show focused on movies, the decline in interest feels a bit counterintuitive. With a majority of Americans spending significantly more leisure time at home, movie theaters closed for much of the year, and most of the marquee releases debuting right on streaming services or for rental on-demand, you’d think programs like the Oscars might generate more interest. But that just hasn’t been the case. Although all the nominated films are available to watch right at home, just 6% of adults are more likely to catch up on the Oscar nominees, with nearly one-third of adults feeling less likely to keep up with the movies.
Movie theaters have been through the wringer in the past year, with massive chains on the brink of collapse and local independent theaters hanging on to endure limited capacity screenings. But brighter days could be on the horizon, if you pair apathy for the streaming-heavy Oscars with sustained interest in movie theaters. A plurality of Americans still prefer to watch new movies at home, even after a pandemic year trapped at the house, but 26% favor the movie theater – with an additional 25% who won’t rule it out, depending on the movie.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, older moviegoers prefer their home setup, and young moviegoers are the least likely to watch new movies outright – but the ones who do are a bit more likely to favor the movie theater than moviegoers in the 25-to-34 or 55+ age brackets.
So while indie institutions like the ArcLight Cinema and Pacific Theatres closing this late into the pandemic is grim, the broader outlook for movie theaters might appear to be rosier than you would expect, gauging by consumer interest and tepid outlook for the streaming-heavy Oscars. After a year of largely being able to just watch movies at home, a majority of Americans still aren’t willing to make that their preferred method of viewing.