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The Oscars aren't streaming on Disney Plus — and I'm baffled

Disney Plus app on a television
(Image credit: Disney Plus)

The stars will align on Hollywood's biggest night at the Oscars 2022 ceremony, which marks a return to the kind of lavish in-person event we used to witness in pre-pandemic times.

Undoubtedly, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and broadcaster ABC hope that the prospect of seeing A-list celebrities (Will Smith! Beyonce! Lady Gaga!) will compel more people to search how to watch the Oscars 2022 and rebound from the all-time ratings low of last year.

There's a simple solution if the Oscars wants more viewers — streaming! And yet the Oscars won't be available to live-stream on Disney Plus, ABC's sibling platform. It's a real missed opportunity all around: for the Oscars, for Disney Plus and for the potential viewers.

The Oscars would've been perfect for Disney Plus

What's really weird is that Disney Plus (and its sibling streamer Hulu) live-streamed the Oscar nominations. It was the first time Disney Plus experimented with a live stream in the U.S. (it offers some sports live streams in India and Indonesia).

At the time, the company said, "We performed a test for live-streaming capabilities on Disney+ in the US with this morning’s Academy Award nominations. We are pleased with the results and will continue to test as part of our ongoing and iterative approach to deliver the best user experiences to consumers."

Ariana DeBose and the cast of West Side Story

(Image credit: Amblin)

Yet, the successful nominations stream didn't push Disney to do it for the big show itself.

The Oscars are the ideal event for Disney Plus to officially roll out live-streaming. It's family-friendly. Disney is behind three of the five animated nominees (Encanto, Luca and Raya and the Last Dragon), as well as several other films (West Side Story, Nightmare Alley, Summer of Soul, Cruella and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the 10 Rings). The ceremony will even feature a rousing rendition of Encanto's mega-hit song "We Don't Talk About Bruno."

The cast of the Disney movie Encanto

(Image credit: Disney)

Perhaps Disney was constrained by some fineprint on ABC's deal with the Academy, or there's a problem live-streaming the ads that would accompany the broadcast. Whatever the reason, it's a loss for the Oscars, which could use the greater visibility and access. And it's a loss for viewers, especially cord-cutters, who are craving more options for watching live television.

Disney Plus is falling behind in live-streaming

It's also a loss for Disney Plus. Its major competitors, aside from Netflix, have already begun offering live streams. Peacock impressed everybody with its coverage of the Winter Olympics and features the Premier League, WWE and other sports. Paramount Plus offers live streams of your local CBS station with a premium plan, as well as Champions League, PGA and the NFL. 

Amazon spent some if its enormous coffers to land Thursday Night Football. Prime Video was also the home of this year's Academy of Country Music Awards, which moved to the streaming for the first time. HBO Max is testing live sports coverage in Latin America. Even Apple TV Plus is offering Friday Night Baseball.

New Marvel series and Witcher spinoffs can only do so much.

Everyone is getting into the game — except Disney Plus and Netflix. 

Maybe they're the two streaming services that least need live-streaming to attract new subscribers and retain existing ones. They are the behemoths of the bunch. Still, both must show Wall Street that they can continue to grow. New Marvel series and Witcher spinoffs can only do so much. 

I've written before about how I want to cancel Disney Plus because of the lack of variety in content. The streamer took a small step forward in adding the TV-MA Defenders Saga shows, but they need to keep going by adding live events — sports, awards, concert specials, or even space launches (NatGeo is a major brand on Disney Plus). 

For now, people will have to see the Oscars (not) talk about Bruno with one of the best TV antennas or cable TV alternatives. Or in the Academy and ABC's worst-case scenarios, not at all. 

Kelly Woo
Senior Writer

Kelly is a senior writer covering streaming media for Tom’s Guide, so basically, she watches TV for a living. Previously, she was a freelance entertainment writer for Yahoo, Vulture, TV Guide and other outlets. When she’s not watching TV and movies for work, she’s watching them for fun, seeing live music, writing songs, knitting and gardening.