OK, Oscars, it’s now on you!

After the disaster that was the Golden Globes’ first virtual telecast, pressure is mounting on the producers of next month’s Academy Awards to make sure they put on a must-see show to avoid a similar ratings debacle.

The producers of the April 25 broadcast — Steven Soderbergh, Stacey Sher and Jesse Collins — and the Motion Picture Academy have been keeping the details of what they have planned close to the vest.
But of course that hasn’t stopped industry insiders from speculating.

From those I’ve talked with this week, the consensus is that the Oscar ceremony will likely forgo a single host, as it has for the past two years, and will lean heavily into the global nature of the business and the Academy’s own efforts to grow its international membership. That could mean we’ll see the Oscars staged in multiple locations here and abroad, with a mix of virtual videos and some live in-person appearances.

The thought of yet another Zoom event is enough to make potential viewers run for the hills. The headline of Variety TV critic Daniel D’Addario’s review of the Globes was “An Unmoored Evening Pushes Zoom Fatigue to the Limit.”

D’Addario’s unforgiving assessment of the bicoastal, mostly virtual show was that it was “a lazy, clueless ceremony that likely convinced many viewers to change the channel.”

Monday morning’s early ratings surely proved him right. NBC’s three-hour virtual broadcast of the 78th annual Globes, which felt more like five hours when you factor in all of the many awkward, cringe-able moments, drew just 5.4 million viewers and a 1.2 rating among adults 18-49, according to Nielsen’s non-time-zone adjusted numbers (by the time this publication goes to press, we’ll have a final tally). As our ratings story noted, not even fan-favorite female powerhouse hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler “could save the socially distanced soiree from soured ratings.”

The zillion-dollar question is: Can the Oscars save itself from a similar fate? ABC has been fretting over the show’s poor ratings for several years. The 2020 ceremony was watched by the smallest audience the awards show ever had, with just 23.6 million viewers tuning in — a 20% drop from 2019.

Let’s stay tuned to see if the Academy Awards can follow in the footsteps of this year’s Emmys, which, as D’Addario wrote, “was a surprising triumph of producing.”