The Academy’s Changes to the Oscars Did Not Go Over Well With Movie Fans

Includes a new category for 'popular film'

Critics accuse the Academy of scrambling to recoup lost viewers. Getty Images
Headshot of Alissa Fleck

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has just announced plans to change up the Oscars, a move that may be motivated by the award show’s plummeting ratings. The changes will include the addition of a new category for “popular film,” an earlier air date of Feb. 9 by the year 2020 and a “more globally accessible” three hour telecast, according to an announcement on the Academy’s Twitter page.

The public expressed its outrage over these changes in the typical fashion—via Twitter rant, accusing the Academy of scrambling to recoup viewers (see all the angry replies here). Opponents have pointed out that there are other categories that should be recognized rather than popular film, like a category for stunts or voice acting, and noted the Academy seems intent on making the Awards more palatable for a broader audience, rather than Oscar loyalists who wait all year for Oscar Sunday. They also commented that shortening the telecast will rob smaller categories of deserved air time, and that moving the air date up gives the public less time to catch up on nominated films.

This year’s Oscars saw a 20 percent decrease in viewership, its lowest recorded ratings. Despite the drop in numbers, Oscar Sunday remains the biggest generator of ad revenue for ABC, according to Kantar Media. And, this year’s ad revenue nonetheless topped last year’s by nine percent.

For years, the award ceremony has faced criticism that it’s eschewing its creative roots in favor of commercialism. Today’s announced changes seem unlikely to convince critics otherwise.

@AlissaFleck Alissa Fleck is a New York City-based reporter, podcast producer and contributor to Adweek.