The Oscars had the lowest ratings in years, and ABC is trying to get control to revamp them


chris rock oscars


Chris Rock hosting the 88th Academy Awards.

After Sunday's Oscars brought in the lowest ratings in eight years, the top brass at ABC is ready to have more control.


The network - which has aired the Academy Awards since the advent of television (outside of periods in the 1950s and 1970s when the awards aired on NBC) - and the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences, which hands out the awards, are back at the negotiating table to agree on an extension of their license agreement, according to Variety. And it sounds like the show's production is a point of contention.

Under the current terms of the contract, the Academy retains the right to control the overall production of the show, including choosing the producers and the host.

But according to Variety, Disney-ABC Television Group president Ben Sherwood and other executives at the network want to be in the creative discussions going forward (the Academy and ABC declined to comment for the Variety story).

The network has wanted more power over the decades, but with this years's major decline in ratings, it may have a good bargaining chip.


That, and the Academy needs money.

The Academy is currently undertaking its biggest initiative ever: the building of a museum in Hollywood, slated for completion in 2018, which is being billed as "the world's leading movie museum."

According to Deadline, the museum costs $300 million to build and the Academy has already sold $341 million in bonds to pay the debt it has accumulated.

The Deadline story predicts that the Academy would likely seek a license fee increase. ABC took in more than $100 million in ad sales for the 2015 Oscar show.

ABC's current deal with the Academy runs through 2020, so it might seem a tad early to renegotiate, but a new deal secures a cash pipeline for the Academy that's needed for the completion of the museum and other initiatives.


But one source points out to Variety that the Academy isn't at a complete disadvantage if ABC pushes hard on having more control. That's because CBS would take the show in a second.

"The Academy can just turn to [CBS head] Les Moonves and say, 'Will you give us more freedom?' And he'll say 'yes' and give them more money," according to the source.

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