With summer coming to a close, movie fans will soon be following all the happenings of awards season. Numerous film festivals in the early part of the fall feature works that will be vying for Oscar gold, with projects like Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, La La Land, and Manchester by the Sea all building buzz so far. It's a long and grueling process that will reach its conclusion on February 26, 2017 when the 89th Academy Awards airs on ABC.
That network has long been the home of the Oscars telecast, broadcasting the event more than 50 times since its inception. ABC and the Academy obviously have enjoyed a fruitful partnership, and they have every incentive to keep working together for the foreseeable future. Thanks to a new longterm contract extension, ABC will be the home of the Oscars for many years to come.
According to THR, ABC has renewed their agreement through 2028. Previously, the deal was set to expire in 2020. Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs had this to say following the announcement:
"We’re honored to continue our storied and successful partnership with ABC in broadcasting the most watched live entertainment event of the year. In 2028, we’ll mark the Oscars 100th anniversary, and ABC is the perfect partner to help us celebrate the magic of movies with our fans."
While both parties are happy with the contract, they do have some issues that they need to work out. The most recent ceremony (with Chris Rock hosting) saw the TV ratings drop to an eight-year low. Previously, the 2015 telecast saw the smallest viewership since 2009. In this day and age of social media, where winners are instantly announced on live feeds and speeches are later uploaded online, the need to watch the Oscars in real time has diminished. If ABC and the Academy are to bounce back in terms of ratings, they need to figure something out to make it worthwhile (i.e. trimming down the show time, etc.).
Granted, the Oscars still secures millions of viewers each year and is always trending on social media during the broadcast, so they still have a sizable audience. However, the Academy probably isn't too keen on setting new lows each time out and would like to see an uptick very soon. It will be interesting to see how the two organizations try to improve the broadcast moving forward. ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey talked about a "multi-faceted, multi-platform ceremony," so perhaps ABC can make things more interactive to encourage viewer participation. Time will tell, but the Oscars broadcast has seen very high numbers in the past, so it might just be a matter of circumstance.
The 89th Academy Awards will air on ABC February 26, 2017.