"Give the people what they want," the Hollywood maxim says, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences still likes that formula. Ratings for the Oscars broadcast rose a bit last year for the hostless show, and ABC announced Wednesday that there will be no emcee this year either. The network's Karey Burke said the show will stick to "what worked for us last year: huge entertainment value, big musical numbers, big comedy, and star power," Entertainment Tonight reports. Ratings had reached a record low in 2018, per the Hollywood Reporter, then climbed 11.5% last year to nearly 30 million viewers. Jimmy Kimmel hosted the 2018 show.
One reason for dropping hosts is the perennial effort to shorten the show; Burke has said "a brisk 3 hours" is the goal. A Wall Street Journal audit of five shows found that the hosts averaged more than 25 minutes of talking. That can be entertaining; the Wrap ranked the most recent 14 hosts and put Steve Martin at the top, calling him a "smart, classy, and relaxed" emcee "who knows how to hit the right tone." Martin last hosted solo in 2003, but he has no new competition on the horizon. Oscar noms will be revealed Monday; the show will be held Feb. 9. (Another idea to shorten the broadcast was rejected.)