How to Watch the 2019 Oscar Awards

For some people, watching the Oscars on TV is a long-standing tradition, even if a growing contingent no longer partakes in the TV communion. This isn’t to say those who don’t watch on TV aren’t interested in movies. They most likely turn to the internet to read about the winners or watch highlight videos after the broadcast occurs.

Ellen's famous Oscar photo
The Oscar Awards | Ellen DeGeneres/Twitter via Getty Images

The internet is arguably the worst enemy of the Oscar telecast and maybe why the ratings have been dipping. With a bloated running time besides, this year’s show on February 24 will supposedly be a more tightly controlled ship.

How can you watch the 2019 Oscars? For those cutting the cord, it’s also available online.

A look back to how people enjoyed the Oscars before TV

If you know your Oscars history, then you know it started in 1929, though didn’t go out to a national audience. Oscar’s first ceremony was just exclusive to those who happened to be at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel that night.

A year later, it was being broadcast on radio, but not yet on a national basis. Not until the mid-’40s did the Oscars go out to a national audience through ABC Radio.

Moving to TV in 1953 didn’t obliterate the radio broadcasts either. NBC and ABC Radio continued covering the Oscars until 1968.

Television turned the Oscars into a major event

NBC carried the Oscars between 1953 and 1960. After that, the more familiar ABC picked up the show for a while until it went briefly back to NBC.

Of course, once it returned to ABC indefinitely in 1976, it’s become a standard for generations to turn the telecast into a near Super Bowl event. You could say 1998 was the all-time peak year for the Oscars, including running at least 3 1/2 hours and bringing in a record 57 million people. It helped to have Titanic winning then, something we haven’t seen since on an equal scale.

Most people could argue the show became too bloated for its own good by 2002 when the show ran well over 4 hours. To this day, it’s still running within a 3 1/2 hour (or more) runtime window.

The Oscars and diminishing ratings

Most Oscar telecasts in recent years have hovered around the 30 million viewer range. Last year, things took a turn and dipped to a 10-year low of 27.5 million viewers.

No doubt it’s one reason we’re seeing more of a push this year to make the show fit into a two or three-hour time slot. While this could cause some problems on its own (particularly in rushing important speeches), it’s another good reason for adding a streaming option as an alternative.

All we can hope for is we don’t see a scary return to the 1989 show, which was the last time Oscar had no host. We probably won’t see any dance numbers with Snow White this time around. Still, we wonder what the producers will consider valuable during airtime.

Where to watch on TV and online

Oscars
An Oscar statue stands during a preview for the Governors Ball during the 91st annual Academy Awards week in Hollywood | VALERIE MACON/AFP/Getty Images

If you’re into the Oscar red carpet beforehand, you might want to check out ABC’s recent foray into providing similar coverage to compete with E!. ABC will be airing this live at 3:30 p.m (PST). The streaming version will be moving from Facebook to Twitter this year.

As for the main broadcast, it starts at 5 p.m. (PST) per usual. In recent years, they’ve offered a streaming version directly on ABC.com, including through the ABC app. Only select cities will be able to participate in the app stream.

It’s not impossible to think of the Oscars going entirely to streaming in another five to ten years, even if it ruins the fun old days of the world communing around a television at the same time.