Lowest Ratings Since 2009: Did the Selma Oscar 2015 Boycott Work?

Lowest Ratings Since 2009: Did the Selma Oscar 2015 Boycott Work?


Not One Dime in November 2014.  Not One Viewer in February 2015.  Black buying power has always been written about and talked about.  But now, it’s actually being demonstrated in living color and in front of everyone who is paying any attention. It was the energy of the BlackLivesMatter movement after the shooting death of Michael Brown in August of 2014 that ignited a Black Friday boycott effort in November 2014.

It appeared to have worked as Black Friday sales numbers went down over ten percent.  According to Fortune magazine, the numbers from the year before were 11% down.  The Black Friday “not one dime” boycott showed what could happen when the buying power of African Americans is engaged on a social issue.

For the Oscar broadcast on February 22, 2015, Black Twitter showed what can happen when people are organized to simply watch something else.  Anyone who believes the Oscar folks weren’t paying attention need only look at the endless parade of Black actors who were presenters on Oscar night.

Either the lowest ratings since 2009 just happened to occur out of nowhere or #BlackTwitter orchestrated a successful boycott of the Oscars because of the Joe Califano-led snubbing of Selma director Ava DuVernay and the exclusion of any Black actor or actress from any major Oscar category.

RELATED:  November 26, 2014 — Calls to boycott Black Friday in protest of Ferguson spread

Deadline Hollywood:  “10.8 rating among adults 18-49 with 36.6 million viewers. That’s a 17% drop in the key demo from the final ratings for the 2014 Academy Awards and the worst the ceremony has done since 2008, when that show had a 10.68 rating. The total viewership for last night’s Oscars was down 18% from last year to hit a six-year low; the 2009 Oscars also had a total audience of 36.6 million.”

Imagine if the boycott energy was applied to voting or politics?  What might come next?

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Lauren Victoria Burke
Lauren Victoria Burke is a writer, comms strategist and political analyst. She created Crewof42, a blog focused on African American members of Congress, in 2009. Ms. Burke also writes for NBC BLK, The Root, NNPA and is the Managing Editor of Politic365. As part of a diverse career in politics and media, she has served as a congressional staffer for the U.S. Senate Democratic Policy Committee, Communications Director for U.S. Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN) and Director of Communications for Justin Fairfax for Lt. Governor of Virginia. From 2014 to 2017, Ms. Burke appeared each Monday on NewsOneNow with Roland Martin on TVOne. Ms. Burke holds a B.A. in History from The American University. She was born and raised in New York. Email: LBurke007@gmail.com. Twitter: @LVBurke. IG: @laurenvburke. Periscope: @LVBurke


  1. Wow. You are reading a lot into this to support your predetermined position. Perhaps fewer people watch the Academy Awards, because it is not entertaining? It is a bunch of Hollywood elitists celebrating themselves, rather than their “CUSTOMERS.” Aside from “American Sniper,” the paying public was not interested in seeing their films in huge numbers. Why would you expect anyone to care who the “Academy” deemed the best?

    These are awards from filmmakers for filmmakers. When you have years of uninteresting movies, no one cares. My favorite performances were all ignored … and get this, I don’t care what their race or ethnicity is. Best Actor should have been between Keanu Reeves and Denzel Washington for their kick ass performances (pun intended) in John Wick and the Equalizer, respectively.

    Also, “Selma” was not the best “Black” film of 2014 … get over it.

    Finally, Black people represent under 13% of the population in the United States. That is 1 out of 8 people. If you are nominating 5 people, it is likely that there will be zero black people. It happens, and it is not always racists. You should be asking why there are hardly any Hispanics being nominated; but again, that does not serve your purpose.