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It took something as dramatic as a live, public assault between two mega-stars for most of the world to actually notice that the prestigious movie award show, the Oscar's, was even airing. After the slap exchanged between Will Smith and Chris Rock occurred, the media was buzzing, but actual viewers of the live event still remained much lower than previous years. Evidence supports that award shows are at their downfall.

The Oscar's had its golden age in the early 2000s with an average of around 40 million viewers from 2000-2014, compared to a mere 10 million viewers in 2021 and 15 million in 2022. However, this is not just the case for the Oscar's. Collectively, all major award shows such as the Emmy's, Grammy's, and Golden Globes have lost millions of views since the early 2000s.

So what is the problem? Will viewership continue to decline for award shows? Can they be saved or will they become obsolete in the future?

These are all valid questions, but I do not have the actual answers. However, I do possess an opinion on why I believe so many once-popular award shows have flopped, and how they can be resurrected and made better.

Streaming Services Defeats Television

The rise of streaming services has taken a substantial amount of people from their television to their laptop, phone, computer etc. for their entertainment needs. With the constant newness on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and so many more streaming platforms, cable television simply does not stand a chance. Although many programs such as the news and sporting events will always remain popular live television, award shows have not managed to stay as consistent because they do not have the same appeal.

Award shows cannot match the level of action and call for urgency that the news or sporting events consist of to make people want to tune in. With the annoyance of commercials and the lack of excitement throughout a live award show, tuning in just seems like a waste of time, rather than just finding out who won which award after-the-fact. Regardless, award shows still need to remain on live television to any have appeal, since streaming it after the fact would come off even more edited and fake than they already seem.

Celebrities Don't Have the Same Appeal

Another reason I believe award shows have flopped is because of a decline in interest in seeing celebrities at the event. Back in the early 2000s, celebrities were more elusive figures, and most fans would do anything just to know more about their personal lives. Now, with social media, celebrity lives are already constantly on blast for all to see. A few google searches, and you can quickly find out the last place a celebrity was spotted, what they were doing, their new style, who they're going out with, etc. We are bombarded by news about celebrities so often, that there is less charm in catching a few glimpses of them at an award show anymore.

They Neglect People's Interests

Imagine if the Oscar's were given out based on the vote of common film-watchers, instead of by a small group of elites. Most award shows are missing out on the ability to give people a feeling of purpose or impact to the show. If the public does not feel involved, they start feeling disconnected. I believe if people have the ability to choose what might win, it would create more interest.

Watching an award be announced and feeling like someone or something else deserved the trophy once filled viewers with passion, but overtime, it has become tiring to witness. Watching an award show just to see some incredible artists lose out on or not even get nominated for awards they deserve feels like a complete rejection of the consumer. Rightfully, fans have gotten mad, and fully boycotted award shows.

How They Can Make a Comeback

I think one of the biggest discrepancies of award shows is that they have failed to build up excitement for them. Despite only being aired once a year, we forget about them because we do not know what we have to look forward to. One way award shows could create excitement again is simply by allowing people to vote on who they want to win each category. It gives people a reason to tune in when they are eager to see if their own personal choice will win.

In addition, I believe that award shows need to be more fun and interactive throughout the program. Instead of long commercial breaks, there could be games, polls, quizzes, more performances; anything that will keep a viewer entertained beyond the awards. Award shows need to think of more creative ways to get people invested, not only in the anticipation of whats to come, but of the fun of watching it in between. Award shows are often too serious and dragged out, when really, with the opportunity of having so many celebrity personalities in one room, it should feel much more spontaneous and candid.

Conclusion

Overall, although it is probably going to take many more complex solutions to get award show viewership back to where it was, my hope is that it does not need violence to make people interested. Television and media overall has evolved at a rapid rate over the last century, and award shows need to keep up with the pace and to try understand what the new generations want. Although award shows are at their downfall, I believe they can make a comeback with greater attention to consumer interests and more realness.

Sofia is a sophomore studying Public Relations, Advertising, and Applied Communications at FIU. You might have already guessed, but she loves all things writing and art. She was born and raised in New Jersey but currently resides in Miami. Sofia has a passion for seeing new places, trying new things, and delving into the world of different media.
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