Academy Awards: Oscars Social Media

The Oscars are currently on TV. I’m not watching it – sorry Channel Nine – but I am flicking between the streaming webpage, tweets and other bits an bobs of sites. When I speak and write on the COI of Social Media – the Cost of Inaction – one cost is cultural relevancy. If you…

The Oscars are currently on TV. I’m not watching it – sorry Channel Nine – but I am flicking between the streaming webpage, tweets and other bits an bobs of sites.

When I speak and write on the COI of Social Media – the Cost of Inaction – one cost is cultural relevancy. If you are no longer relevant to a whole generation or two, what will happen?

Televising the Oscars

I mean imagine if the Academy had refused to allow the Oscars to be televised? Betcha there was a fight about putting the night of nights on the box way back when.

The 1st Academy Awards ceremony was held Thursday, May 16, 1929, at the Hotel Roosevelt in Hollywood to honor outstanding film achievements of 1927 and 1928. It was hosted by actor Douglas Fairbanks and director William C. deMille. The 82nd Academy Awards, honoring the best in film for 2009, was held on Sunday, March 7, 2010, at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, with actors Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin hosting the ceremony.[2]

Not only would they have become increasingly irrelevant, what about all the $$$ they would’ve missed out on?

The television network: ABC makes millions by selling advertising during the show for $10 thousand per second. Expensive stars, who would never otherwise appear on television, will work for free. The show itself is relatively cheap to produce compared to a movie or mini-series.

So what’s the problem? That money, that cultural history is under threat:

The Oscars and Ageing Demographic

Given the ancient demographic that runs, nominates, votes and otherwise controls the Academy Awards, it’s always a bit of a shock when someone under 40 gets a nomination:

One of the frequent criticisms of the Academy Awards is that its aging membership does not reflect popular demographic trends. In fact, there is a full generation gap between the ages of average members of AMPAS and the ages of active filmmakers. There are two or more generations between the ages of average members and average filmgoers. Some voting members are octogenarians who haven’t been to a theater in years.

At least two major stars (Henry Fonda and James Garner) admitted publicly that they let their wives fill out their ballots for them, prompting AMPAS to tighten up its voting procedures. (from Media Awareness Network, California)

Uh Oh.

The Academy Awards (now The Oscars) expanded the number of Best Picture nominees from 5 to 10 this year in hopes of reviving the show’s declining TV ratings. That still may have an effect in future years, but I’d attribute any increase in this year’s ratings to the force of nature that has been Avatar.

The Academy Awards is still one of the biggest ratings events in television, and its ratings held up far better than most long running events until the turn of the 21st century. But a variety of changes in the last 10 years seem to have taken their toll, including shifting the broadcast from Monday at 9pm to Sunday at 8:30pm in 1999. 2008’s show during the TV writers strike, at just over 32 million viewers, was the least viewed ever. Viewership did pick up a bit last year, but was still very low on an historical basis.

Considering the Academy Awards viewership peak was the last time James Cameron made a movie (Titanic, also the top grossing of all time, at the time), I’d be stunned if we didn’t see an increase in the ratings this year. Forty million average viewers would not surprise me at all, but above 45 million would. (from TVByTheNumbers)

Sounds to me, that if Avatar doesn’t win, a whole generation or two will turn off the Oscars. Figuratively and literally. And the Academy can be a bit snobbish about blockbusters winning the big awards. That could be fatal…

The Oscars and social meda

So if The Oscars can turn television into a paying global concern with millions of viewers around the world, can they do the same with social media?

The Oscars tweets on Twitter were hopelessly out of date when I checked. The first time, it locked up my Mac (which is normally a good, stable, sweet little machine), second time the tweets seemed to be from weeks ago. The Oscar Tweeters are:

The Oscar Insiders
Adam Shankman
-Adam Shankman is a producer of the 82nd Academy Awards and an inveterate tweeter.

Ben Lyons (iambenlyons)
-Ben Lyons is the Official Oscar Backstage Twitter Correspondent.

Wolfgang Puck (WolfgangBuzz)
-Acclaimed chef Wolfgang Puck will be preparing the food for the Governors Ball after the ceremony.

Lorrin Millette (lorrinmillette)
-Lorrin works in marketing for the Academy and is in charge of the Red Carpet bleachers at the Oscars.

When I looked, the tweets weren’t even still on their page of tweets, and some looked days old. ie. guess who is presenting the supporting actors category. Surely that’s old news now?

Anyway, apparently you can tweet in questions for the stars. I didn’t notice a lot of that. The buzz seemed to be more like people in a pub chatting about the Oscars rather than lining up to ask official questions. More social than organisational.

The Oscars and Twitter

Of course the other side of social media is what other people say. Not using Twitter as a broadcast medium for the Academy but one for viewers and non viewers alike to talk.

richmeyer @brandingexpert You do realize that they spend over $400K for a buffet for celebrities at Oscars not to mention free goodies bag #oscars

@LesleyMag: Im hoping that the “stars” remember #Haiti tonight… so much suffering in the world right now – not up to watching Oscars

@eddiepepitone: So far the Oscars suck balls. So self-consciously unfunny it is unbelievable! We should do a benefit for these people,never mind Haiti!

@ktab note to cablevision users in new york/jersey, abc and cablevision have reached an agreement and the oscars are now showing on abc. #Oscars

The last tweet was important – the hundreds if not thousands of tweets expressing in strong terms disapproval with Cablevision and ABC refusing to come to an agreement on transmitting The Oscars were unprintable. If Twitter is good for one thing, it’s to call to account greedy and obstructive service providers. I don’t really care if it’s ABC or Cablevision that’s at fault. They can both go to their rooms. The days of leaving an audience in silent agony while companies play out manipulative board games are long gone.

Did you notice that Twitter users are also viewers of The Academy Awards? It’s the most highly rated trending topic even if a bunch of people are tweeting that they are NOT watching it and why not.

Perhaps in a world of fragmentation, the last tweet is the most relevant:

sydneyowen Okay so I’m not watching the oscars but I’m googling SJPs dress. Can anyone link me to what she’s wearing? Idk if Google is right?

jwendz @SydneyOwen Yellow Chanel Dress

So, here it is

because we’d miss the fashion, right? Riiight! 😛

Sometimes the best thing to do with social media, is just do your thing. And let others decide how they will consume, filter, forward, create and converse about it. Trying to push discussions into organisational lines – tweet us your questions! – might just get lost in the social buzz. And than can be a good thing…!

EDIT: Kathryn Bigelow won Best Director for Hurt Locker which won Best Picture. Her ex-husband, James Cameron directed Avatar. BOX OFFICE Hurt Locker took $14,700,000 in the US, 6 million internationally, 20 million all together. Avatar took $720,000,000 in the US,  1 billion, 800 million internationally, 2. 5 billion all together

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  1. I am more than happy to let AMPAS members determine who deserves these awards. There are enough awards shows out there decided by the population, and I’m sure they’ll all start having a “Vote by Twitter” category soon enough. Who knows, maybe even The Oscars will cave in and create another category, but please leave the majority of the show alone.

    Down with the vox populi!

    1. well with the numbers of audience declining, can they afford to leave it alone? 🙂

      1. Yes? I see your point re: the ad revenue, but I would hate for these awards to be dictated by something like that. Maybe that’s a naive view of the world, or my love of movies [not just the ones making the $$] talking.

        1. I would prefer to watch Sundance awards, not Oscars as the big night of nights. But they just don’t have the audience. Which I guess is the thrust of my argument. I think… maybe… heh.

  2. It amazes me that the organizers & official tweeters weren’t doing a better job with this – especially considering the declining trends in viewership. The missed a great opportunity through SM – and they would be wise to watch the feed… Although, now it’s too late. Isn’t it interesting that most people thought tweeting about it was better than watching it?

    Thanks for your comments!

    1. it reminded me of Eurovision- I wouldn’t watch it on it’s own, but with Twitter it becomes “must watch viewing” 😛

  3. TV Audience really should decline as more distribution channels emerge. The tired notion that people (read families and lonely people with cats) can be tied down to viewing something in another market’s “prime time” because it suits TV broadcasters and brand advertisers must surely be up for review. I imagine there is a good case for a ‘follow the money’ to see how interconnected the films nominated are with the people paying for the award show and buying the TV adspace.
    Fashion is a great example I suspect some people will get their red carpet fashion fix from a source other than main broadcast, probably a medium that will allow interaction “Did she really wear THAT?” should be a dialogue held via social media and independent of the awards themselves.

  4. The voting members of the AMPAS are making the awards irrelevant by awarding based on criteria that are far detached from common sense and reality and instead gratifying their own wants and needs. This practice has persisted and is the root cause of the decrease in television ratings. Furthermore, the signs of decay have reached new heights in this year’s awards; the plain, ordinary Hurt Locker was awarded Best Picture over Avatar, a film which is indisputably and by far the best the world has yet seen in terms of visuals. Note that AMPAS is the academy of "motion pictures". In context of its media of film (versus other media such as books), Avatar and its far, far superior visuals deserved recognition this year as the best motion picture, but AMPAS instead opted for plain, ordinary artistry (and little of it), which ultimately was a move on their part to award the film that focused on the actor rather than the production itself.

    The AMPAS has been walking down the path toward irrelevance, and took a giant leap toward it this year. Time to wake up and smell the coffee.

    This comment was originally posted onc0up

  5. I’d like to think that Best Picture would take into consideration the strength of the story, acting, direction, etc. Not just superior visuals, which I doubt anyone would argue against when it comes to ‘Avatar’.It won for Art Direction, Cinematography and Visual Effects, and to me, that’s fair, and I thought as much yesterday


    This comment was originally posted onc0up

  6. The Oscars are and always have been irrelevant – it’s not like good movies would stop being made if the Academy Awards ceased to exist. And there are plenty of amazing movies that are never mentioned in the context of these awards. And other than promoting the winners, it doesn’t have any real effect on the industry other than to make the Academy’s voters feel overly important. What’s sad is the millions of people who think that an Oscar somehow validates a good movie or performance, when really the two have little to do with each other.

    This comment was originally posted onc0up

  7. You could probably say the same thing about a lot of awards; the primary reason something so good is made is hardly to go up on stage and hold a statuette. That’s besides the point though.They’re a critical accolade, awarded by peers in the industry, and offer recognition to the winners and those nominated, and there’s no doubt that said movies will get a boost. It also helps pick some people from relative obscurity and give them a chance to continue making, acting, etc, in movies. And yes, I *do* feel that they validate a good movie or performance.

    Yes, they won’t be able to give due credit to every amazing movie out there, but they, along with the festival circuit, sure as hell help. In the end, it’s another night that helps a great deal in feeding conversations about movies, so all power to ‘em.

    This comment was originally posted onc0up

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