Kevin Hart Viewed as Favorably as Past Oscars Hosts, Poll Finds

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Ellen DeGeneres; Chris Rock; Kevin Hart; Neil Patrick Harris; Jimmy Kimmel and Seth MacFarlane

Also: Many Americans want to see more familiar nominees, a new Hollywood Reporter/Morning Consult survey finds.

Kevin Hart may have stepped away as this year's Oscars host, but the comedian is viewed about as favorably as other recent Academy Awards host including Chris Rock and Neil Patrick Harris — and is viewed more favorably than the host of the last two ceremonies, Jimmy Kimmel, according to a new Hollywood Reporter/Morning Consult poll. 

Hart was viewed favorably as an Oscars host by about 51 percent of respondents in the survey, which was conducted Dec. 6-9 from a nationally representative sample of 2,201 adults. Chris Rock, who hosted in 2016, was also viewed favorably by 51 percent of respondents, while Jimmy Kimmel was given a 48 percent favorability rating for his turn as emcee in 2017 and 2018. 

Hart maintained his favorability despite a controversy surrounding old homophobic tweets from 2009, 2010 and 2011 that were resurfaced after it was announced on Dec. 4 that he'd be hosting the 2019 ceremony. It appears that Americans, broadly, didn't care that much about the flap, which concluded when Hart said in an Instagram post that he had been given an ultimatum by Film Academy organizers to apologize for the tweets or step away. (The Academy hasn't commented publicly on the incident.) He stepped away.

The new THR/Morning Consult survey also shed light on Americans' Oscars viewing habits. In short: Most people don't watch the whole show; many prefer to watch clips the next day; and more people say they watch only the red carpet than the host monologue. 

Americans, generally, agree that the telecasts are too long. The March 4, 2018, ceremony, which ran longer than 3 hours and 40 minutes, was the lowest-rated ceremony of all time, with 26.5 million total viewers. Some 48 percent of respondents in the survey said the Oscars are "too long," with 34 percent replying that the show was "about the right length" and only 2 percent deeming it "too short." (The Academy recognizes runtime as an issue. In August, the board of governors unveiled changes that included a commitment to "producing an entertaining show in three hours.")

Around 10 percent of respondents stated that they “always watch” the Oscars, with 19 percent noting that they “do not usually watch” and 32 percent saying they "never watch." Some 21 percent of respondents said they "only watch highlights the next day" while 20 percent said they watch the “whole show" and 5 percent only tune in for the red carpet arrivals. 

The Academy has lately pushed for more inclusion within its membership ranks, inviting a record 928 and 774 members, respectively, the last two years in an effort to diversify its voters and its nominees list. Some 11 percent of respondents were “much more likely” to watch the Oscars if it included a more diverse nominees list, while 7 percent said they were less likely to watch a more diverse show. Forty-five percent said it makes "no difference either way" if the nominees list is more diverse. 

What does get more attention from potential viewers: familiarity, which may bolster the theory that nominating big blockbusters rather than smaller indie films could goose viewership. About 17 percent of respondents said they were "much more likely" to watch an Oscars show if they knew of the nominees and 30 percent said they were "somewhat more likely"; 28 percent said it would make "no difference either way" if they were familiar with nominees. 

A related question, which asked respondents whether they were more like to watch the ceremony if they were "a fan of a nominee" found that 18 percent were "much more likely" and 30 percent were "somewhat more likely" to tune in. (The Academy had tried to address this concern by unveiling a "Popular" Oscar category, but withdrew the proposal in September after it was criticized for its vague criteria.)

The host may also be key to viewership, according to the survey results. About 19 percent of respondents said that they’d be "much more likely" and 30 percent said they’d be "somewhat more likely" to watch the Oscars if it featured a hosted they liked. Meanwhile, 29 percent said a host didn’t matter to them. 

In recent years, the most warmly received host was Billy Crystal. The comedian, who has hosted the Oscars nine times, received a 57 percent favorability rating among respondents. Crystal was closely followed by 2014 host Ellen DeGeneres at 56 percent. The least liked host in recent years was Seth MacFarlane, who was panned by critics for his 2013 opening monologue and received a 39 percent favorability rating.

Many Americans say they don't tune in to the Oscars to watch stars turn the show into a political platform. Some 22 percent of respondents said they'd be "much more likely" to tune in if attendees "do not express their political opinions" while only 6 percent say they'd be likelier to tune in if stars expressed their political opinions more often.

See the full results of the most recent THR/Morning Consult poll below.