The heat was on for the Academy Awards this year.
It was one of the most controversial awards seasons in history, in large part because all of the Oscars' acting nominees were white — for the second year in a row.
The omission of people of color in those categories inspired a boycott — Jada Pinkett Smith, Spike Lee and Snoop Dogg said they'd be avoiding the festivities — and a national “TV Tune Out” organized by Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network.
Sharpton this week claimed victory.
“The early reports of a decline in the Oscar viewership is heartening to those of us that campaigned around asking citizens to tune out,” he said. “This is a significant decline and should send a message to the Academy and to movie studio heads. Though clearly we don't take full credit for the decline, certainly one would have to assume we were effective and part of the decline. And to those that mocked the idea of a tune-out, it seems the joke was on them.”
According to Nielsen ratings, the Oscars telecast on ABC drew 34.3 million viewers, down nearly 7 percent from last year's 36.6 million.
It was the lowest viewership for the program since 2008, when 32 million people tuned in, according to the ratings service.
On Sunday, Sharpton and local National Action Network organizer Najee Ali led a demonstration a few blocks from the Academy Awards ceremony in Hollywood.
“The protest and boycott of the Oscars was a success!,” Ali said on Facebook. “Lowest ratings in 8 years! See what happens when we stick together against a system steeped in white supremacy.”
Sharpton said the demonstration was about more than just awards — it was about getting people of color good jobs in Los Angeles, too.
“This is not about actors and actresses getting awards,” Sharpton said. Tthis is about inclusion and the respect of ticket buyers and viewers who are ordinary struggling American citizens who have been marginalized. For those that live and work in Los Angeles in the movie industry and can't get jobs because people from their community can't get deals because there is no one there to greenlight their films and work, this ought to send a message to Hollywood that it is time for a change.”