Americans Want an Oscars Host, and The Rock Is Their Top Choice

Viewers are also interested in a second chance at hosting for comedian Kevin Hart
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson attends the 47th Annual People's Choice Awards on Dec. 7. Half of Americans said they'd be interested in watching this year's Academy Awards if the actor hosted the ceremony, according to new Morning Consult data. (Amy Sussman/Getty Images,)
January 21, 2022 at 12:01 am UTC

Hosting the Oscars is a notoriously thankless job that, for the last three ceremonies, no one’s had to do, as ABC has opted to go without a single host. But as TV ratings slip, ABC is once again asking someone to take one for the team and lead the telecast this year. 

An overwhelming plurality of Americans agree that the ceremony should have a host, but answers vary as to whom. While rumored candidate Pete Davidson is said to be out of the running, new Morning Consult polling shows that one man – Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson – could be the one to bring viewers back to the film industry’s biggest night.

The Rock Would Drive the Most Interest in the Oscars Among Rumored Hosts

Respondents were asked if they’d be interested in watching the 2022 Academy Awards if the ceremony was hosted by each of the following rumored candidates or previous hosts:
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Poll conducted Jan. 14-16, 2022, among a representative sample of 2,210 U.S. adults, with an unweighted margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points. Figures may not add up to 100% due to rounding.

What the numbers say

  • Forty-nine percent of Americans prefer hosted awards shows, compared to just 4 percent who prefer them without a host. Forty-seven percent of respondents said they didn’t know or had no opinion. 
  • When given a list of potential Oscars hosts, respondents were most interested in Johnson hosting, with half saying they’d be interested in watching the ceremony if he served as emcee. Johnson is reportedly on producers’ wish list.  
  • Kevin Hart, who withdrew as host of the 2019 ceremony after old, homophobic tweets resurfaced and caused backlash, also drew interest from viewers. Forty-seven percent said they’d be inclined to check out the show if he hosted.
  • Steve Martin, Martin Short and Selena Gomez, stars of the Hulu original series “Only Murders in the Building,” are reportedly all potential hosts. Walt Disney Co. owns both Hulu and ABC, so highlighting the trio would allow the company to promote Disney’s streaming endeavors. Forty-four percent of adults said they’d be interested in Martin hosting, while roughly one-third said the same of Gomez and Short. Nearly 3 in 5 Gen Zers (59 percent) were interested in Gomez hosting, making her the fifth-most popular option among the generation.
  • Zendaya also sparked interest among the youngest generation, with 70 percent of Gen Zers interested in her hosting. Tom Holland, Zendaya’s “Spider-Man” co-star and rumored real-life partner, has said he’d be interested in the Oscars gig if he was asked, and fans have started campaigning for the pair to take the stage March 27.

The impact 

The Academy Awards have a lot of work to do to bring back viewers and appeal to new ones but using a host — and hiring the right one — is a start. After a slight increase in ratings in 2019 and 2020, viewership took a nosedive last year, and producers are now hoping to find a host who appeals to the widest possible audience. A platform like the Oscars gives ABC’s parent company, Disney, a chance to lean into brand synergy, presenting in-house stars as a way to advertise offerings across its networks and streaming services. 

If there’s any truth to the rumors that the “Only Murders” trio could take on the role, that could be a wise move for Disney, as Gomez polled well among younger consumers, while Martin and Short were a hit with older audiences. Disney can’t go wrong with The Rock, either.

The Jan. 14-16, 2022 poll was conducted among a representative sample of 2,210 U.S. adults, with an unweighted margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

Sarah Shevenock previously worked at Morning Consult as a reporter covering the business of entertainment.

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