A daily newsletter guide to what is happening on your screens - TV, streaming, movies, games, VR, AR
Dan Barrett is an industry commentator & TV critic. He does radio - 4BC & ABC GC and co-hosts the Screen Watching podcast. He's a former Mediaweek deputy editor and content creator for SBS.
Oscars bloodbath. And Game of Thrones prequel enters production.
Why is the ratings for the Academy Awards in freefall?
The 2021 Oscars, it's 93rd awards show, took a ratings tumble as expected. The question was whether it would see a drop as significant as we saw from the Golden Globes (6.9 million, a 63% drop) and the Grammy Awards (8.8 million, a 53% drop). It dropped 58%, delivering 9.85 million viewers.
It goes without saying, but there are several reasons why these award shows are seeing such a plunge. In previous years it was just in line with the general decline being seen in broadcast TV viewership. But the declines we've seen this past year in award shows are a decline greater than standard attrition of viewers. It's certainly COVID-related, but we don't yet know exactly what it is. It may simply be that the world got very real for a lot of viewers this past year and the idea of watching wealthy celebs back-patting over movies/TV/music that the audience have no relationship with simply isn't something they're interested in watching.
And it's not like there aren't viewing alternatives these days. It's not a coincidence that in the past 12 months fewer people are watching award shows while Netflix is showing record growth in subscriber numbers.
There will always be die-hard viewers who will watch these award shows regardless of where they are screened, but the bulk of an audience on broadcast is casual viewership who haven't bought-in 100% - they could just as readily watch something else, so you have to hook them in with the promise of something entertaining. And did the Oscars offer that this year? Heavens no.
The Union Station set looked great and made the presentation look unique. There needs to be more of this. Stop just hosting this at the Dolby Theatre - these awards are supposed to be of Hollywood - a medium that thrives on visual spectacle. It should look different every year.
It didn't end on Best Picture. The problem with Best Picture as a category is that the award is accepted by Producers that most of the audience don't know. End it on an actor and you have a show ending on a more relatable note.
They eliminated the musical performances from the awards and moved them to the pre-show. I would usually say this was a huge plus if not for the fact that just a few months ago we saw the broadcast of the US Presidential innauguration evening special. During that show they cut to multiple live music performances from across the country and each of them were visually sectacular. Bring back the songs and give them some out-of-theatre spectacle. It can be done.
This is the third year without a host. Stop that. Get us a host. It gives the awards show structure and an entry point for the audience. You had Lil Rel Howery right there...
It was almost an hour before we saw a single clip for a movie. The common complaint about the Oscars is that fewer and fewer people have seen the movies being awarded. I cannot imagine a viewer who hasn't seen most of the films sticking around for this "tell 'em, don't show 'em" approach.
A decision was made to only play clips before awards with an actors performance or for a nominated film. If that's the case, move one or two of those awards to the start so we can see some actual movies.
Why end on a category where the favourite to win was not in attendence? End it on Best Actress and you have an award show ending on delightful oddball Frances McDormand. She was always guaranteed to do something curious - this year she howled like a wolf on stage. What an ender!
Meanwhile, Leo DiCaprio is expected to star in a US remake of International Oscar winner Another Round. Read: Deadline
Game of Thrones prequel enters production
House of The Dragon is the new Game of Thrones series from HBO. Today we have gotten an official announcement that the show has entered production and will debut in 2022.
As part of the announcement we have a fancy logo for the series with a tagline: Fire Will Reign". That's cool.
There is also a cast photo of a COVID-safe table read. The Stars of the show are: Paddy Considine, Olivia Cooke, Matt Smith, Emma D’Arcy, and Fabien Frankel. Rhys Ifans, Steve Toussaint, Eve Best, and Sonoya Mizuno also feature. Squint and you may be able to see them...
Line of Duty is the highest-rated UK show of the past 13 years. Read: Deadline
Kids programming is 6% of the viewership of ABC iView. Read: TV Tonight
The cast of kids who will star in new Amazon series Paper Girls (based on the really great graphic novel series) has been revealed. They're all young girls, so if you know who they are already, that'd be a bit odd. Read: Deadline
Adult Swim's development team has been merged with the comedy and animation team at HBO Max. Read: TBI Vision
If you're still not paying attention to US linear streaming service Pluto TV, you should start. The service is adding 20 new Spanish-language channels to its service, which brings it to 50 channels - 1/5 of the number of channels available on the platform. Just think about the impact channels like this may have when Pluto rolls out further internationally and launches channels catering for individual markets. Read: The Streamable
Happy 30th, Dinosaurs
Puppet-based family sitcom Dinosaurs debuted 30 years ago, airing initially on 26 July 1991. Among the actors on the show was the recently departed Jessica Walters, left out of yesterday's In Memoriam Oscars segment.
Big Bird returned
Rest assured, the stolen Big Bird costume from a travelling Sesame Street live show in Adelaide, Australia has been returned by thieves after the heat got to be too much.
Master of None season 3 returns with new star Lena Waithe on May 23.
The Handmaid's Tale season 4 returns April 28 on Hulu.
Special season 2 debuts on Netflix May 20.
Move To Heaven debuts May 8 on Netflix.
Ghost Lab debuts on Netflix on May 26.
Super Me debuts on Netflix May 8.
The Boy From Medellín debuts on Amazon Prime Video on May 7.
What's next? Tomorrow.
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