Why the Oscars 2012, Meryl Streep, and the Best Picture Award Will Not Appeal to Millennials

According to the Vancouver Sun, the median age of those tuning in to the 84th Academy Awards to watch Meryl Streep most likely win her third Oscar will be 50-years-old, up from 44 ten years ago.

The median viewer age has risen steadily over time and follows a trend of overall decline in viewership, with last year pulling in 37.9 million viewers, the smallest audience in Oscar history.

This may be largely because stuffy Academy voters do not represent the interests of millennials, but these stats also point to another issue: Movies honored by the prodigious Oscars this year will not do as well as they once did when they come to DVD.  

Decades ago, an Oscar nomination ensured a boost in video sales. But in today’s Internet dominated society, all it means is an increase in streaming free videos at best. Movie industry experts should rely less on potential Oscar nominations for movie sales, and look at restructuring business models for better profit instead.

Our generation’s dislike of walled gardens, micropayments, and digital advertising is boosted by the fact that, for better or worse, we have come to expect quality content for free. This has backfired for most companies, who are yet to come to terms with new media.

Consider Netflix’s financially disastrous gaffe when it decided to charge $7.99 a month for DVDs and web-based movie streaming last summer. 800,000 Netflix subscribers subsequently dropped the service.

“After [Netflix CEO] Hastings’s missteps, the stock went into free fall, dropping to $113 per share in early October, from $210 in the second week of September. It would hit a low of $62 a share in November,” according to a Vanity Fair business article.

Like the saying goes, why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?

According to a recent Columbia University survey, 70 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds bought, copied, or downloaded unauthorized music, TV shows, or movies for free. Unreasonable rise in sales costs is not doing companies like Netflix any favors. Sure, illegal downloading should be curbed, but unless companies come up with more innovative solutions than SOPA or its many variations, millennial consumers will continue to decrease.

Faced with these facts, the Oscars are less significant than ever. The lobbying on the part of filmmakers and actors for academy awards is about as useful for film sales as Netflix’s price rise. The heavy politics people have come to recognize behind the Oscars are slowly dying. As of today, the Academy Awards are officially irrelevant.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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Rita Solomon

Rita Solomon is a Journalism and Politics double major at NYU. She is interested in the way digital media is evolving to accommodate non-professionals and giving a voice to all, especially pertaining to politics.

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