Chris Rock will be the host of the 2016 Oscars, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced Wednesday. It will be his second time hosting the awards; he previously hosted in 2005.
Rock’s turn as host wasn’t especially well-reviewed last time out — although his comedy seemed to play better to TV viewers than the audience in front of him. The show did, however, put up strong ratings that year, with 42.1 million viewers tuning in. In the decade since, only the Ellen DeGeneres-hosted 2014 show has drawn a bigger audience.
The 2015 Oscars suffered substantial declines, falling 16 percent in viewers (from 43.7 million to 36.6 million) and 18 percent in adults 18-49 (13.1 to 10.8). Neil Patrick Harris hosted, and the reviews of his performance were mixed at best.
Hosts tend to bear the brunt of the blame (or get most of the credit) for swings in Oscar ratings, but whether that’s fair is an open question.
The host and his or her handling of the show certainly plays some role, but often not as much as the slate of nominated movies and actors. Years without a popular movie that’s seen as a real best picture contender tend to have smaller audiences than years with such films. Last year “American Sniper” was a box-office hit but wasn’t seen as a front-runner for any major awards.