NBC's Opening Ceremony coverage was down 37% from 2016, from 26.5 million to about 17 million. That happened on the same weekend that the box office dropped 25% from last week. And that comes on the heels of Netflix reporting a loss of 400,000 U.S. subscribers. "For a while, case-by-case analytics — plus a vague, obligatory reference to Covid — seemed to explain the disappearing audience," says Michael Cieply. "Were the Oscars down 56 percent to 10.4 million viewers in April? Well, the movies were boring, plus Covid. Did the Golden Globes fall 62 percent to 6.9 million a few weeks earlier? Blame racism, plus the same boring movies, plus Covid. Didn’t the Super Bowl slide to a modern low in early February? Of course, but it was a weak match-up between second-tier television markets, Tampa Bay and Kansas City. (You can add the Covid refrain, if you want.) Sports in general? Too woke. The Emmys? Too complicated. Black Widow? Streamed to death. Cable news? Too repetitive. and contentious, and lost without Trump. As the reasons pile up, you begin to wonder if it’s not time to reach for Occam’s Razor, a philosophical rule that says, more or less, that the simplest of competing theories should be preferred to the more complex. Maybe, as a group, we are suffering from 'screen fatigue' — not in the narrow sense of migraines, eye strain and Computer Vision Syndrome, but in a much bigger way, as a culture. We are tired of Zoom calls. We are tired of event television. We are really tired of looking at ourselves on media screens, large and small. This was happening before Covid. The secular decline in viewers for the Academy Awards program is my own favorite yardstick for the growing ennui. Even before the lockdowns, the Oscar audience was off 57 percent from its peak. It had fallen in stages, from 55.25 million viewers in 1998 (when Titanic was Best Picture) to less than half that number (when Parasite won) last year. Sure, the virus hurt. But it only hastened what was happening anyway — a very human reaction to the confinement of life on screens. People were getting itchy. They wanted to eat. Breathe. Climb rocks. Fall in love. Have babies. Walk the dog."