The 2021 Oscars Were the Least Watched in the Show's History

Sunday's Academy Awards were the least watched in the broadcast history of the Oscars, with only 9.8 million viewers tuning to watch the ceremony.

  • The 2021 Oscars were the least watched ever, CNN reports.
  • Only 9.8 million people tuned in, a 58 percent drop from last year's show.
  • The 2021 Oscars have replaced the 2020 Oscars as the least viewed in the show's broadcast history.

Well, this is unfortunate: Sunday's Academy Awards were the least watched in the broadcast history of the show, with only 9.8 million viewers tuning in on ABC, as CNN reports. That's a 58 percent drop from the previous least watched Oscars: Last year's ceremony, which attracted 23.6 million viewers. Sounds...not ideal!

As CNN notes, the Oscars did their best to attract a bigger audience despite the difficulties created by the COVID-19 pandemic, enlisting Steven Soderbergh, Jesse Collins, and Stacey Sher to produce the show and utilizing the new venue of Union Station to allow attendees to appear maskless. Soderbergh had a clear vision for the ceremony: "It’s going to feel like a movie in that there’s an overarching theme that’s articulated in different ways throughout the show. So the presenters are essentially the storytellers for each chapter," he told the Associated Press.

Soderbergh added.

But alas, the Oscars couldn't out-direct the pandemic: As Vulture notes, the show encountered an "unprecedented scenario" in which most viewers had little to no opportunity to see the nominated movies in theaters. What's more, as Vulture reports, award shows in general are doing pretty badly of late, with the positively-reviewed Grammys and the less positively-reviewed Golden Globes losing 53 percent and 62 percent of their viewers respectively in 2021. 

We'll have to wait another year to see if award shows as a whole can somehow reverse their drastic decline in viewership. Let's hope, at least, that the 2022 Oscars don't repeat this year's extremely anticlimactic ending.

Emily Dixon
Morning Editor

Emily Dixon is a British journalist who’s contributed to CNN, Teen Vogue, Time, Glamour, The Guardian, Wonderland, The Big Roundtable, Bust, and more, on everything from mental health to fashion to political activism to feminist zine collectives. She’s also a committed Beyoncé, Kacey Musgraves, and Tracee Ellis Ross fan, an enthusiastic but terrible ballet dancer, and a proud Geordie lass.