It would be unfair for award organizations to suddenly change their standards after years of using the original system
The theatrical release rules have always been standardized, and a change to those standards at this point would be a reversal of long-established expectations.
An industry standard has been established, and those standards must be maintained in some form, despite the pandemic. This does not mean theatrical release can or should operate in the way it always has, but completely shifting the theatrical requirements is an abrupt departure from the norm and allows streaming giants to encroach upon long-established standards. Streaming giants are already highly contested in terms of monopolization and oversaturation, which has long diluted modern movie standards. Moreover, streaming services are not excluded from long-term movie benefits once films are wide-released digitally, but theaters do not enjoy that same privilege in turn. As the already floundering theater industry faces an enormous hurdle in the form of a pandemic, the reversal of award show rules would be a massive blow. In recent years, the push for diversity has encouraged organizations like the Academy to reflect upon their historical standards and observe where they might have been exclusionary. Such updates are made in the name of fixing a pre-existing problem, rather than making changes in anticipation of the digital era.
The Academy and other award organizations have long been criticized for various reasons, including lack of diversity and an excess of pretension and exclusion of foreign films. As they begin to make those changes, now is the perfect time to instigate a new set of changes that are ideal for a modern world. Rapid digitization and streaming go hand-in-hand, and awards should cede to development and be open to updating their standards.
Rejecting the premises