The 94th Academy Awards drew a bigger audience than they did in last year’s least watched Oscar ceremony ever. Sunday’s show, however, is still well below past years as both TV viewing and moviegoing have gone through radical changes recently.
ABC’s broadcast of the Oscars drew 15.36 million viewers and a 3.2 rating among adults 18-49, according to time zone-adjusted fast national ratings from Nielsen (early, unadjusted figures had the show at 13.73 million viewers and a 2.9 in the key ad demographic ). They don’t include out-of-home viewing — though that will be rolled into the final same-day numbers that will be out Tuesday morning — or streaming. Live telecasts typically (though not always) see their ratings adjust upward after those elements are factored in.
Still, the early figures put Sunday’s show well ahead of the final numbers from last year’s scaled-down ceremony, which had all-time lows of 10.4 million viewers and a 2.12 rating in the 18-49 demographic. The time zone adjusted figures show a 48 percent jump in total viewers and a 51 percent bump in adults 18-49 over last year’s finals, and gains of 56 percent in viewers and 68 percent in the demo over the similar numbers last year (9.85 million and 1.9).
The Oscars join several other awards shows in stopping steep ratings declines from the 2020-21 season — though none have reached anywhere near the heights of pre-pandemic viewing. The Emmys and SAG Awards both had sizable gains over their last outings, and the CMA Awards and American Music Awards (both on ABC) were either steady or slightly up over last year.
Despite the year-to-year improvements, though, Sunday’s Oscars will go down as the second-least-watched since Nielsen began tracking total viewers in the mid-1970s. Prior to last year, the audience had never fallen below 20 million viewers.
ABC’s telecast generated huge reaction on social media when Will Smith walked onstage and slapped presenter Chris Rock after the comedian made a joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. That came about two-thirds of the way through the 3 hour, 40 minute ceremony, by which time the audience had been with the show for some two and a half hours. (Data from analytics company Samba TV shows the audience for the Oscars peaking about an hour earlier.)
Bookmark THR.com/Ratings for more ratings news and numbers.
March 28, 10:25 a.m. Updated with time zone-adjusted ratings.