How the Oscars Tried to Win Over Youth, but Ultimately Failed

The Insufferable Telecast

In an attempt to appeal to a younger audience, The Academy looked to James Franco and Anne Hathaway, more importantly they looked to digital technology and social media to rejuvenate their tired image, but ultimately failed.

What is baffling is why The Academy used the telecast as an opportunity to give us boring lessons about Oscar history, presenters monologued about Oscars greatest moments before they handed out an award, how this was supposed to appeal to the young crowd, I do not know.

Halle Berry honored Lena Horne, the first African American actor to sign a long-term contract with a major Hollywood studio. Nicole Kidman reminded us that ‘in the beginning, the movies really were silent.’ Billy Crystal told us that ‘Bob Hope was the Oscars.’ But poor Bob, is dead.

At risk of alienating the older crowd, The Academy was awfully heavy-handed about its history and its importance, when it should’ve welcomed the next generation in a Bruce Vilanch-style bear hug.

When young people are watching movies in a rapidly changing media landscape, far from the golden era of Hollywood, I still wonder if they will care about this awards show moving forward.

Live Stream Hell

Unfortunately, the people I follow on Twitter had trouble watching the Oscars online when a reliable live stream was nowhere to be found. Many reported technical difficulties. Many were probably trying to find illegal live streams. I don’t know.

Teaming up with YouTube or Ustream could’ve really helped The Academy

win big with the young crowd. Sure, The Academy partnered with Livestream for red carpet coverage and granted MTV and Pop Sugar limited access, but I rolled my eyes when the President of The Academy announced their ten-year commitment to network television and scheduled, appointment viewing.

At this point, the Oscars will remain exclusive to ABC until 2020.

All Access iPad App

Following the Grammys lead, Oscar launched a second-screen experience with the Oscar All Access iPad app, providing iOS users a behind-the-scenes look to be enjoyed online while also watching the telecast.

Oscars All Access costs $4.99 and remains geolocked to the US iTunes store. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to download the app from New Zealand.

From my understanding, the app provided iOS users the option to thoroughly examine gowns and tuxes with multiple 360 glam-cams. Something Apple fan boys have wanted to do for years. Then, coverage shifted inside the theatre, where users could switch between fifteen cameras, accessing all the action backstage, and finally concluded with a live stream of the after ball.

Unless you’re truly interested in Hollywood fashion, red carpet coverage is what you watch on TV to pass the time before the ceremony, the second-screen experience really isn’t necessary, but if red carpet coverage is what

you wanted, switching to the E channel on cable TV would’ve sufficed.

YouTube Sensations

In a last ditch attempt to win over youth, The Academy employed the skills of YouTube sensations Auto-Tune the News and the PS22 chorus.

We were treated to a random Auto-Tune the News-like montage that included Harry Potter, Toy Story 3, The Social Network and Twilight Eclipse, all of which are dominated by young casts or made for young audiences.

The Gregory Brothers have stated publicly that ‘We won’t be posting the clip to our YouTube channel, but it will live for a limited time online at the Academy’s site.’

You’d think that, in an effort to appeal to a younger audience, The Academy would’ve granted the Gregory’s permission to upload, leveraging the enormous Auto-Tune the News audience to build their own brand.

If you missed the clip, you will have to search YouTube for illegal fan-uploads, which The Academy will no doubt force YouTube to remove, or wait until the clip is uploaded to the Oscars website when interest in the Oscars has waned.

Finally, the ceremony concluded with a vomit-inducing rendition of Somewhere Over the Rainbow by the PS22 chorus, kids who found fame on YouTube when they posted their own version of Lady Gaga’s Just Dance.

Editor in Chief at here SMNZ, I have a passion for social and digital media. When not writing and managing SMNZ I am the Head of Innovation at TAG The Agency, a digital ad agency and the Head of Sales and Marketing for End-Game, a software development agency. I'm also involved with a number of startups and I am always keen to support those that are bold enough to give things a go. Start something, better to try than to live wondering what if...


  1. Craig Reply

    A fair analysis of a very, very poorly orchestrated social media event. There were an estimated 344,000 people tweeting about it, yet I never saw any official tweets or twitter-only information going around. Another fail in a related arena.

  2. Lewis Bostock Reply

    @TheAcademy is the official Academy Twitter account, in keeping with the theme this year, they tweeted fun facts about their own history, ad nauseam. Oscar host James Franco tweeted during the telecast too, but it was never properly integrated, or even approved by The Academy, it seemed like a sly aside.

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