What Can Future Award Shows Learn to Bolster Engagement & Viewership Again?


It’s no secret that award shows have taken a hit during the pandemic. With the usual crowd of A-list celebrities forced to tune into the shows remotely, award shows have fallen 48% in Total Tweet volume from 2020 to 2021 after gaining in volume 23% the previous year. Looking at the 2021 airing performances of The Oscars, The Grammy Awards, The Golden Globes, and the Academy of Country Music Awards, we explored what’s causing the significant decrease in engagement year over year specifically for The Oscars, and how award shows may be able to weather the storm of the pandemic.

Summary

  • Following other award shows aired during the pandemic, The Oscars saw a large decrease in both Total Tweets and Emotional Reactions in 2021
  • Highlights of the night included Actress Yuh-Jung Youn’s acceptance speech, Glenn Close’s “Da Butt” dance, and Daniel Kaluuya winning best supporting actor for his portrayal of Fred Hampton in Judas and the Black Messiah
  • While all award shows have seen a decrease in engagement during the pandemic, The Grammy Awards have been able to retain the highest rates of engagement by focusing their show on performances, leading to higher levels of engagement driven by talent

The Oscars have followed the trend among award shows in 2021, and saw a decrease in engagement year over year

Following the trend of other award shows in 2021, The Oscars have had to adapt their usual ceremony to ensure the safety of the directors, producers, and actors who usually attend the awards. Unfortunately, these changes have led to a sharp decrease in viewership and engagement in 2021, a trend across all award shows aired during the pandemic.

Notably, Total Tweet volume heavily decreased from 2020 to 2021 for 2021 Oscar Awards with 3.1M in 2020 to 1.0M in 2021, a decrease of 67%. Similarly, Emotional Reactions (emotionally charged commentary) also heavily decreased 49% year over year, from 726K in 2020 to 369K in 2021. Due to higher levels of Emotional Reactions relative to total commentary in 2021, Reaction Rate, or fan passion, increased 12% year over over, from 23% in 2020 to 35% in 2021.

Source: Canvs TV, Oscar Linear Airing Window + / - 3 hours, 2019 - 2021
Source: Canvs TV, Oscar Linear Airing Window + / – 3 hours, 2019 – 2021

Highlights of the 2021 Oscars

Actress Yuh-Jung Youn, from the movie Minari, was able to steal the show with her acceptance speech for best-supporting actress. Not only was Youn able to drive the most engagements of any actor or actress of the night, but she was also able to drive 32% of all funny Emotional Reactions throughout the night.

  • Funny Emotional Reactions increased 7% year over year, largely driven by Yuh-Jung Youn’s acceptance speech
  • Verbatims:
    • “Not Yuh-jung Youn hitting on Brad Pitt during her acceptance speech omg she’s precious 😂 #Minari”
    • “Three cheers for Yuh-Jung Youn, who was incredible in Minari and has jokes for days! 😂💜 #Oscars”
    • “YOUN YUH-JUNG giving the best and funniest speech of the night. I love that. I love her! #Oscars”

Other highlights of the night included Daniel Kaluuya accepting his award for best supporting actor in Judas and the Black Messiah, fans paying tribute to Chadwick Boseman and showing support for his nomination as best actor, and Glenn Close doing “Da Butt” dance 

  • Verbatims:
    • Daniel Kaluuya: “Congratulations to Daniel Kaluuya For his Oscar win. Well deserved! Congratulations to @IAmCharlesDKing and @stayMACRO also! Timeless movie!”
    • Chadwick Boseman: “In Memoriam is always difficult, but when they put a Stevie Wonder song to it and wrap it up with reminding us that we lost Chadwick Boseman, that’s a tough one. #Oscars🙏🏻💜”
    • Glenn Close: “Glenn Close doing “da butt’ to the song ‘da butt” (School Daze) at the Oscars is one of the best moments ever!!! 😂😂💃🏾💃🏾”
Source: Canvs TV, Top Emotional Reactions, The Oscars 2021
Source: Canvs TV, Top Emotional Reactions, The Oscars 2021
Source: Canvs TV, Highest Performing Topics, The Oscars 2021
Source: Canvs TV, Highest Performing Topics, The Oscars 2021

While all award shows across the board have seen decreased engagement during the pandemic, The Grammy’s have taken the smallest hit due to their performance and talent based show

While none of the four award shows we observed saw any increase in Total Tweets year over year, the Grammy Awards were able to retain the highest level of Total Tweets compared to the previous year, earning 69% of its Total Tweets in 2021 when compared to the 2020 Grammy Awards. All other award shows tracked in this report were only able to maintain 31% on average of their Total Tweets from the previous year.

  • The biggest driving factor contributing to the Grammy Awards’ higher level of Total Tweet engagement during a pandemic year was its ability to drive engagement from it’s talent
    • 56% of the Grammy Award’s engagement were driven by talent due to the performance nature of the awards, +8% compared to other award shows, which helped to keep fans engaged throughout the airing in a year with less audience present at the actual awards
  • While the Academy of Country Music Awards saw a large dip in Total Engagement, it was able to bolster fan passion in 2021 by focusing on a performance based award show as well
    • Even though the 2021 ACM’s only retained 31% of its Total Tweet engagement year over year, fan passion was at an all time high for the awards with 58% of engagement showing passion towards the awards, 18% above other award shows in 2021
    • The ACM’s were able to earn such a high rate of passion by also focusing on talent and performance during their awards, having 64% of all engagement driven by music performers
Source: Canvs TV, Percent of Retained Total Tweets From 2020 to 2021    Read As: The Grammy Awards were able to retain 69% of their Total Tweets in 2021 compared to 2020
Source: Canvs TV, Percent of Retained Total Tweets From 2020 to 2021Read As: The Grammy Awards were able to retain 69% of their Total Tweets in 2021 compared to 2020

The effect of focusing on performances and engaging fans is most prevalent when looking at Emotional Reactions. When looking at passionate engagement year over year, you will see that the Grammy Awards were able to remain relatively flat by including performances throughout the night, allowing them to maintain high levels of passionate fan engagement (retaining 95% of all Emotional Reactions from 2020) despite the pandemic year decreasing live viewership across all award shows. We also saw this trend occur during the Oscars, as one of the most engaging moments of the night included Glenn Close doing “Da Butt” dance in a trivia segment led by Questlove and Lil Rel Howery.

Source: Canvs TV, Percent of Retained Emotional Reactions From 2020 to 2021    Read As: The Grammy Awards were able to retain 95% of their Emotional Reactions in 2021 compared to 2020
Source: Canvs TV, Percent of Retained Emotional Reactions From 2020 to 2021Read As: The Grammy Awards were able to retain 95% of their Emotional Reactions in 2021 compared to 2020

Canvs emotion measurement consists of 42 core emotions proprietary to the Canvs platform, which identifies through public comments how viewers are reacting to airings.

Canvs is the easiest and most accurate Customer Insights platform to instantly analyze open-ended text, going beyond traditional sentiment analysis to provide best-in-class emotion and topical measurement.



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