Oscars 2020 TV audience hits a new low

Ben Arnold
Joaquin Phoenix accepts the award for best performance by an actor in a leading role for Joker at the Oscars (Credit: AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Fewer people than ever watched the 2020 Oscars as it went out on US network ABC, it's been confirmed.

It received an audience of 23.6 million, and while that seems a pretty sturdy figure, it's a massive climbdown, even from last year.

That's six million fewer viewers than last year, a drop of 20% in ratings, the previous smallest audience being 2018's 26.5 million viewers.

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The loss is made more pronounced because last year's ceremony experienced a bump in ratings, from 26.5 million, to nearly 30 million.

However, it perhaps does not necessarily reflect the general visibility of the biggest night in the movie-making calendar, with millions of views of the show's highlights and speeches being seen online and through social media.

The show is also still the highest rated awards show of the year, receiving just less than five million more viewers than the 2020 Grammys, and 5.3 more than the Golden Globes.

Steve Martin and Chris Rock at the 92nd Oscars (Credit: AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

It was the second year that the Academy of Movie Picture Arts and Sciences elected to broadcast without a single dedicated host, with the likes of Chris Rock and Steve Martin among those appearing on stage over the evening.

Though reviews of the show have been rather mixed.

“One thing a host can do is give the broadcast a shape and a voice when nothing else provides them,” said the New York Times.

Bong Joon-ho, winner of the awards for best original screenplay, best international feature film, best directing, and best picture for Parasite (Credit: Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

“And this year’s show seemed to feel the vacuum more, turning out a grab bag of emotional high points and perplexing uses of time.”

Meanwhile, Deadline reckoned that the show 'bellowed out for a ringmaster to harness what soon became a lackluster circus', where The Washington Post branded it 'Oscar autopilot'.

Korean director Bong Joon Ho was the star of the evening, winning both Best Director and Best Picture for his dark comedy Parasite.

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The movie also made history by being the first foreign language film to win the Best Picture gong.

By comparison, Martin Scorsese's The Irishman and Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon A Time... In Hollywood failed to live up to their reputations.

Tarantino converted two of his nominations – Best Supporting Actor for Brad Pitt, and another for production design – while Scorsese went home completely empty handed, despite 10 nominations.