Ryan Seacrest's coverage of the Oscars red carpet this year was down 43% from last year's show, which the embattled TV personality also hosted.
This was Seacrest's 12th year representing E! News at the Academy Awards. As usual, he threw himself into the mobs of people snapping pictures and trying to get a moment on air with one of the famous nominees. However, he seemed to have a hard time securing high-profile interviews, and many blamed the accusations of sexual harassment and assault that Seacrest has been hit with by his former stylist, Suzie Hardy.
E!'s red carpet show had an over 0.4 rating in adults 18-49, and 1.3 million viewers, according to a report by Variety. That is a 43% drop in the key demographic, and about a 35% drop in total viewers compared to the 2017 coverage. Of course, a lot can change in a year, but it's hard to blame anything else when Seacrest's reputation is the most glaringly obvious difference in the network's show.
It's worth noting, however, that the Live With Kelly and Ryan post-Oscars show saw its best ratings since last May, when Seacrest first joined it. Still, this doesn't necessarily negate the poor performance of the red carpet coverage, which was a big loss for the network.
In the era of the Me Too movement and the Time's Up campaign, many women were uncertain of how to deal with Seacrest -- or how best to gracefully avoid him. Some said flat out that they would not do interviews with him ahead of time, while others said they hoped to simply side step him.
Detractors pointed out that Seacrest was cleared by a third party investigation conducted by E!, and that there were no criminal charges levelled against him. Still, the spirit of the movement is to empower women by believing them, and some of the Hollywood activists felt that they had a responsiblity to Hardy.
Tarana Burke, the civil rights activist credited with founding the Me Too movement in 2006, told Variety that E! was accountable for that discomfort and awkwardness, as the network never should have sent Seacrest in the first place.
“I feel like we should be celebrating the fact that people are finally paying attention to what we’ve been talking about for decades,” she said. To her, that means re-evaluating all protocols, including the 11-year-long tradition of Seacrest hosting the Oscars for E!.
“They really shouldn’t send him," she said plainly. “We shouldn’t have to make those choices of, ‘Do we or don’t we?'”
The network may have learned their lesson after the painful loss they suffered on one of the biggest nights in entertainment.