To be fair, the Academy does post speeches from the Governors Awards on their YouTube channel, but that’s a poor substitute for live viewer engagement. Oprah’s honorary Oscar speech has a little over 150 thousand views on YouTube, while her honorary Golden Globes speech has 1.4 million. And I assure you, that’s not because more people care about the Golden Globes; it’s because more people care about sharing and rewatching something that provided them with a resonant moment.
2022 is the perfect opportunity to turn this all around. The Governors Awards were originally scheduled for January 15th, but they were postponed due to Covid concerns and no replacement date has yet been announced. Well, how ‘bout just putting them back on the Oscars themselves? This year’s honorary recipients is a banner crop that has a real opportunity to provide a ratings boost: Samuel L. Jackson, Danny Glover, Elaine May, and Liv Ullmann.
Consider this—the Academy is reportedly trying to secure Tom Holland as this year’s Oscar host, presumably because of hopes that Spider-Man will provide a significant ratings boost. But if Spider-Man could do that, then couldn’t Nick Fury, too? Lest we forget, Samuel L. Jackson is the all-time leader in global box office, and he’s beloved by fans of many tastes and demographic backgrounds. If the Oscars care about viral moments, they should be extremely interested in televising a Samuel L. Jackson acceptance speech to a global audience.
Of course, bringing the Governors Awards back to the Oscar telecast would be complicated, and there are drawbacks. Having them as their own event allows more time to honor the recipients with clips and tributes, and their own acceptance speeches can be less rushed. Likewise putting them back on the main show will take up time. But that’s less of an issue than it might seem, for a few reasons.
First, the Oscars always have several clip montages celebrating movie history, so those general montages can just be cut in favor of targeted montages honoring the Governors Awards recipients. And second, show length isn’t a problem in and of itself. The specific problem hurting Oscar viewership is that the top awards are almost always given out after most of the audience would rather be asleep, an issue that can be easily solved by just starting the show earlier in the day (perhaps at 6:30 p.m., just like the Super Bowl) rather than by being so protective of show length that you axe important, beloved segments.