Oscar ratings fall flat amidst social media boycott

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The 87th annual Academy Awards aired on ABC Sunday night but it seems as though many viewers opted to watch something else.  The Associated Press reported that the Nielsen Company estimated a total viewership of around 36.6 million people, which is a 16 percent decrease from last year’s number and the lowest amount of viewers since 2009.

In the report, the Associated Press article states that the Oscars are usually the second most-watched television program of the year, often trailing only the Super Bowl. The initial reports from the Nielsen Company suggest that this year’s awards ceremony struggled to garner the same level of national attention.

A recent social media campaign could offer insight into the low ratings.

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On the popular social media website, Twitter, users recently circulated the phrase “Oscars so white” at a rate of 95,000 tweets per hour, according to an article on Forbes.com. The phrase was tweeted as an analogy mocking the Academy’s minimal inclusion of African-American nominees in this year’s show.

As this campaign went viral on the Internet, many Twitter users stated that they wouldn’t be tuning into this year’s Oscars. The boycott was framed as a stance against the famed award ceremony’s lack of racial diversity.

One Twitter user wrote that in the Academy’s 87-year history, only 31 black actors have been presented with the coveted golden statue. The 2015 Oscars was the first ceremony in 17 years not to feature an Asian or black nominee in any of the four major categories.

While opinions on the subject vary, the Oscars boycott is another example of the power of social media in society today. It is impossible to know whether or not the stark decrease in viewership was directly related to the Academy’s alleged lack of racial diversity and the ensuing boycott, but Twitter and other social media platforms offer a constant pulse on the state of public opinion.