Academy Nixes Several Categories From Live Oscar Telecast (AWARDS 2021)

The Academy Awards telecast will only air 15 award presentations live out of the 23 Oscar categories.

The Academy finally caved.

After decades of remaining committed to presenting every award live during the Oscar broadcast, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences announced that for the 94th Academy Awards, 8 of the 23 Oscars will be presented off-air, prior to the telecast.

Those categories are:

  • Film Editing
  • Original Score
  • Sound
  • Production Design
  • Makeup & Hairstyling
  • Animated Short
  • Documentary Short
  • Live Action Short

The in-person ceremony will begin one hour before the broadcast. It is during this pre-broadcast when these 8 awards will be presented.

As a concession, edited clips of these presentations will appear during the live broadcast — thus giving these categories and their winners an opportunity to be seen by the global audience — but they will be shortened to a degree that will enable the show’s producers to not exceed a three-hour runtime.

Unfortunately, no other alternative option for that pre-broadcast hour was announced, such as possibly streaming it live on Disney-owned platform Hulu (their ABC streaming hub). If it was considered, it was likely nixed due to the fact that it would compete against ABC’s Red Carpet pre-show coverage.

This marks one of the most dramatic concessions to the ongoing ratings decline of the Oscars (and, for that matter, all awards shows). The Academy hopes that this will make for a more viewer-friendly experience, one in which some time will be saved by not showing awards people are less interested in while also providing the broadcast more time for entertaining segments that will keep viewers engaged.

Below is the full letter to Academy members detailing the shift, from Academy President David Rubin. The Academy Awards will air on ABC Sunday, March 27, at 8PM EST / 7PM CST. It will be hosted by Amy Schumer, Regina Hall and Wanda Sykes, who will individually serve as a solo host for each hour of the program. (To read a full list of the nominees, click here.)

  • Dear Fellow Academy Members,

    We’re excited to present a 94th Oscars broadcast that both honors the year’s achievements in motion pictures and provides boundless entertainment for our global audience of movie lovers. After carefully listening to feedback and suggestions from our film community, our network partner, and all those who love the Oscars, it was evident we needed to make some decisions about the broadcast that are in the best interest of the future of our show and our organization.

    When deciding how to produce the Oscars, we recognize it’s a live event television show and we must prioritize the television audience to increase viewer engagement and keep the show vital, kinetic, and relevant. This has been an important focus of discussion for quite some time. We do this while also remembering the importance of having our nominees relish a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

    In order to provide more time and opportunity for audience entertainment and engagement through comedy, musical numbers, film clip packages and movie tributes, a change in the show’s production will take place. This year’s show producers and Academy leadership with oversight of the Oscars have made the decision, with endorsement from the officers and the Awards Committee, that every awards category must be featured on the television broadcast, though eight awards will initially be presented in the Dolby Theatre in the hour before the live broadcast begins.

    They will not be presented in the pre-show nor on the red carpet, as some have speculated. Instead, the in-person ceremony at the Dolby Theatre will begin one hour earlier to present eight awards categories before the live telecast starts. Those presentations will then be edited by our creative and production teams and will be folded seamlessly into the live televised show.

    To be clear, all the nominees in ALL awards categories will be identified on air and ALL winners’ acceptance speeches will be featured on the live broadcast. Every awarded filmmaker and artist in every category will still have the celebratory ‘Oscar moment’ they deserve on the stage of the Dolby, facing an enrapt audience.

    For the audience at home, the show’s flow does not change, though it will become tighter and more electric with this new cadence, and the live broadcast should end – yes, with the Best Picture category – at the three-hour mark.

    This year, those categories presented in the evening’s first hour and seen later in the live broadcast are, alphabetically: Documentary (Short Subject), Film Editing, Makeup and Hairstyling, Music (Original Score), Production Design, Short Film (Animated), Short Film (Live Action), and Sound.

    The categories to be presented live on this year’s broadcast are, alphabetically: Actor in a Leading Role, Actor in a Supporting Role, Actress in a Leading Role, Actress in a Supporting Role, Animated Feature Film, Best Picture, Cinematography, Costume Design, Directing, Documentary (Feature), International Feature Film, Music (Original Song), Visual Effects, Writing (Adapted Screenplay), and Writing (Original Screenplay).

    We realize these kinds of changes can prompt concern about equity, and we ask you to understand our goal has been to find a balance in which nominees, winners, members, and viewing audience all have a rewarding show experience. Moving forward we will assess this change and will continue to look for additional ways to make our show more entertaining and more thrilling for all involved, inside the Dolby Theatre and watching from home.

    Every Academy branch and award category is indispensable to the success of a film and vital to this industry. Both our challenge and our goal is to create an exciting, streamlined Oscars show without sacrificing the long-held fundamentals of our organization. We appreciate your understanding and will be grateful for your unwavering support.

    Sincerely,
    David Rubin

4 thoughts on “Academy Nixes Several Categories From Live Oscar Telecast (AWARDS 2021)

  1. Sigh. It won’t work. Or, at least not the way they hope it will. They think that they will increase ratings by chasing people who don’t watch the Oscars – but it will only anger the people who DO watch the Oscars.

    1. Agreed. We’ve crossed an irreversible rubicon in the new media age. It is a monumentally different world of viewing options and bifurcation. The issue is way bigger than making little tweaks like this. I don’t know what the answer is (or if there is one), but it would be rooted in making it a multi platform broadcast. The trick in that though is finding a profitable business model for that. One reason they’ve never been serious about run time until now is because the longer the show the more ads they get money from.

        1. 1. I have to think that’s being discussed.
          2. Since it hasn’t been implemented yet, it’s likely because they’ve yet to land on what the appropriate business model (and ad rates) would look like, at a level that brings in the kind of ad revenue ABC and the Academy needs.
          3. Also, the current conditions of the contract delineate exclusive broadcast on ABC, and it’s likely the two sides (Disney/ABC and the Academy) have yet to come to an agreement on the terms to change that in a way that expands to Hulu.

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