Academy Awards audience up 12% from last year – variety

Ratings rose Sunday as an average of 18.7 million viewers tuned in to watch “Everything Everywhere All at Once” take best picture honors and dominate the 95th Academy Awards on ABC with seven wins. That’s according to early, time-zone-adjusted ratings from Nielsen, which include out-of-home viewing — but keep in mind that number could change once the final nationals are in.

The Oscars, which saw the return of host Jimmy Kimmel for the first time since 2018, were up 12% over last year’s ratings. And according to the time-zone-adjusted flash national numbers from Nielsen, it beat the previous year’s 3.8 rating by 5% in key adults 18-49, earning a 4.0 in the demo.

This year’s broadcast faced stiff competition from HBO’s season finale of breakout smash “The Last of Us” — whose star, Pedro Pascal, ironically was a presenter at the kudocast. But it also probably enjoyed more interest in this year’s Oscar race, given the presence of popular films like “Everything Everywhere,” “Avatar” and “Top Gun Maverick” in the race — not to mention the fact that audiences might have been curious as to how Kimmel and Teleast would address last year’s slapping of Will Smith against host Chris Rock.

Looking at last year’s corresponding preliminary fast national data, the 2022 ceremony drew 15.36 million viewers and a 3.2 rating among adults 18-49.

The Oscars in 2023, which were broadcast live from 20.00 to around 11:39 p.m. ET, was also the first from the producing team of Glenn Weiss and Ricky Kirshner — live TV vets filling that role after years of film producers overseeing the event.

Final “live + same day” Nielsen data for the 95th Academy Awards will be available Tuesday. Early flash affiliate Nielsen numbers for Sunday’s Oscars reported by some outlets Monday are not time zone adjusted and do not take into account West Coast viewing of the awards show.

ABC executives were also bracing for unusual numbers because Sunday marked the start of daylight saving time and it was possible that ratings could have been affected by the time change.

Ratings for the Academy Awards have been critically low in recent years, hitting a record low in 2021 of 10.5 million viewers and a 2.2 rating among the key adults 18-49 demographic.

The 2022 telecast, which featured a remote performance by Beyoncé as well as the shocking altercation between Rock and Smith, drew 16.6 million viewers, according to Nielsen live + same-day data — a 58% jump from the previous year and an average rating of 3.8 (73% increase from 2021) in the key demographic of adults 18-49. After further time-shifted viewing in the following days, the telecast ended up drawing 17.6 million viewers, making it the most-watched non-sports program last year.

But despite the good growth, the show still only managed to rank as the second-worst viewership and ratings performance in Academy Awards history.

Last year’s show was hailed as “the most social Oscar telecast ever,” according to ABC and the Academy, with 22.7 million total social interactions, up 139% over last year’s telecast (9.5 million). The broadcast received 16 million video views on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

The record for an Oscar telecast remains the landmark 1998 entry, when an average of 55.3 million viewers watched “Titanic” win best picture. As recently as 2014, the Oscars still drew 43.6 million viewers (when “12 Years a Slave” won). The last time the Oscars scored more than 30 million viewers was 2017 (33 million, when “Moonlight” won), and the last time it crossed the 20 million threshold was the pre-pandemic 2020 show (23.6 million, the year “Parasite ” was victorious).

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