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Off the shoulder: giving fans of Oscars and other awards more of what they want

In this blog, The Switch’s Ian Dittbrenner looks at how broadcasting and livestreaming of Oscars coverage is evolving.

The Oscars this week once again brought home the fact that the red carpet has become an event unto itself, and the same can be said for the broadcasts and livestreams of post-award shows too. Shoulder programming gives many people more of their showbiz celebrity fix than the long, sometimes drawn-out awards themselves. The reality is that many people these days are more interested in the zippy – and sometimes snippy – commentary around the red carpet than the actual ceremony. And technology has made it easier than ever to cost-effectively cover all the pre-award build-up and post-ceremony reflection.

Wall-to-wall coverage of the red carpet for the Oscars and other showbiz awards, such as the BAFTAs, Screen Actors Guild Awards and The Critics’ Choice Awards – and other award events of all types – is easier than ever with livestreaming and other newer technologies such as remote production being utilized. It all starts earlier than it did a few years ago, with high-quality production values and often separate commentaries aimed at specific international markets. Over-the-top (OTT) coverage has also made watching all the pre-ceremony arrivals, interactions and interviews more global than ever. Viewers in the UK, for instance, were able to tune into Oscars pre-shows from 10pm their time and then switch over to the actual awards ceremony hours later.

Then there’s the post-award shows. The flipside of viewing in the wee hours in markets such as the UK is that, while the diehards may stay up through the night to watch the Oscars and other transatlantic events, many other viewers clock off after watching a couple of hours of the red carpet and then catch the highlights and live commentary on breakfast TV specials. For instance, ITV’s Good Morning Britain, supported by The Switch, delivered a recap of the big winners along with analysis, debate and colorful anecdotes live from Hollywood’s Beverly Hills Hotel – featuring host Piers Morgan alongside an assortment of guests, including Sharon and Kelly Osbourne, Perez Hilton and Joan Collins.

Coverage of the red carpet, the events and their aftermath has also become increasingly an interactive affair, with streaming on social media platforms allowing viewers to contribute their own lively commentary. There are more ways than ever for audiences to engage with what’s happening around their favorite awards now – sometimes using multiple screens. This has helped big events such as the Oscars, BAFTAs, Grammys and Emmys to capture a whole new generation of viewers – as well as rising global events like The Game Awards, which have their own personalities gracing the red carpet and winning prizes.

OTT platforms will continue to allow for even more red carpet and post-ceremony coverage around niche events, as it continues to become more economical for smaller organizations to give livestreaming around their awards the broadcast quality treatment. Remote production is further enabling smaller scale events to have the range of camera positions and top-flight crew that raises their coverage of the red carpet to a whole new level. For the bigger events, remote production will likewise become much more important as broadcasters meet the demand for red carpet arrivals, fashion cameras and other shoulder programming around awards ceremonies while maximizing budgets.

The technology and methods available to produce and deliver live event coverage is only going to make the shoulder programming around these events even more extensive and widespread. Overall, we are simply seeing more coverage of more events being produced at a level that was once reserved for only the big movie, music and television awards shows.

Ian Dittbrenner is Executive in Charge of Production & Digital at The Switch