Oscars Ratings on ABC Down 6% Overall, But Up in Younger Viewers, Key Male Demos

Spotlight Best Picture Oscars 2016
David Fisher/REX/Shutterstock

UPDATE: The ratings picture for Sunday’s Oscars looked a little brighter in the updated time zone-adjusted fast nationals from Nielsen, with last night’s show down just 4% in adults 18-49 and up in adults 18-34 and all key male demos.

According to these numbers, the “88th Annual Academy Awards” averaged 34.3 million, down 6% from last year’s 36.6 million in the fast nationals, which rose to 37.3 million in the finals. In adults 18-49, Sunday’s 10.4 rating is off 4% from last year’s fast national rating of 10.8, which was revised up to an 11.0 in the finals.

The Chris Rock-hosted show was up from last year by 1% in adults 18-34 (9.4 vs. 9.3) and across all key male demos: +20% in men 18-34 (8.5 vs. 7.1), +6% in men 18-49 (9.4 vs. 8.9) and 1% in men 25-54 (10.3 vs. 10.2).

For the night, ABC nearly tripled its combined CBS-NBC-Fox competition while nearly quadrupling those networks in adults 18-49.

Against a backdrop of controversy and protests surrounding the lack of minority nominees at this year’s Oscars, overnight ratings for Sunday’s ceremonies on ABC were down to what appears to be the show’s lowest number in eight years — though it remains far and away the top-rated kudocast on television.

In Nielsen’s metered market overnights, which include 56 of the nation’s largest markets, the Chris Rock-hosted “88th Annual Academy Awards” averaged a still-big 23.4 household rating/36 share from 8:30 to midnight ET, down 6% from last year’s 25.0/38 and 16% below the 10-year high of 27.9/41 from two years ago. And in adults 18-49, last night’s 13.5 overnight rating was down 5% from 2015 (14.2).

The previous low-water mark household rating in the overnights came in 2008 when the Jon Stewart-hosted Oscars delivered a 21.9/33. That show ended up averaging 32 million viewers, which is the smallest on record, according to Nielsen.

Total-viewer and demo estimates for last night’s Oscars will be released later this morning by Nielsen, but the telecast, which saw “Spotlight” win best picture and Leonardo DiCaprio win his first Oscar, is expected to finish in the vicinity of 34 million viewers. So, despite declines from recent years, it will easily remain television’s top-rated non-sports program of the year. (Sunday’s Oscars out-performed the recent Grammy Awards on CBS by 45% in households and 56% in adults 18-49 in Nielsen’s overnights).

Last year’s Academy Awards ended up averaging its smallest audience in six years (37.26 million) and a seven-year low in the 18-49 demo (11.0 rating/29 share) — down sharply from its especially high ratings of 2014 with Ellen DeGeneres as host (43.74 million, 13.1/33 in the demo).

The top local-market ratings for the Oscars came on WABC New York (33.2/49), followed by KGTV San Diego (31.2/49), WLS Chicago (31.0/47), KGO San Francisco (29.6/52) and Los Angeles (29.5/48).

Civil rights leader Al Sharpton led a boycott of Sunday’s ceremony in Los Angeles, with about 70 demonstrators marching in a rally to protest the second consecutive year of African-American actors being shut out of the major acting awards. He vowed that “this will be the last night of an all-white Oscars.”

Second-time Oscar host Rock got mostly good reviews for his performance last night.  Chief TV critic Maureen Ryan of Variety said he made the most of his opportunities, especially with his “scathing and generally well-crafted monologue.”

Nielsen is expected to release viewership totals for African-Americans on Tuesday. The minority typically makes up a small percentage of the overall Oscar viewing pie, with the high in the last 20 years coming when Rock hosted for the first time in 2005 (5.27 million) — a year that also featured prominent acting noms for African-American actors including Jamie Foxx and Don Cheadle. Last year, less than 10% of the overall Oscar viewership (3.29 million of 37.26 million) was black, according to Nielsen.


Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 53

Leave a Reply


Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  1. Bif says:

    OMG I seriously didn’t know they still had these kind of Awards Shows on TV anymore !! I thought all they had were Award Shows for Music…and I watch TV every night.
    I do see that from reading this article there is till the “Racial Card” being played…”not enuf Afro-American actors/actresses got nominated”… so not many Afro-Americans watched the show…

  2. majorstyles says:

    The far left politics are jammed into our asses like a broomstick enema. Enough is enough.

    Hollywood is dead to me.

  3. Facebook says:

    My husband and I watched the Oscars, albeit the entire time in shock and in dismay that Chris Rock, and, or whom ever was responsible converted the event which is suppose to recognize and award those actors who have demonstrated superior talents in the Art of acting into a a circus and inappropriately also focused on an unrelated matter-GIRLSCOUT cookie sales….And what was the purpose of interviewing Compton movie goers?? DeCaprio, thank God, brought substance in his speech in accepting his Much deserved Oscar. No one complains about Whites and others being left out and African Americans dominating the NFL and the NBA….. Rock and others POSITION clearly demonstrates an attitude of entitlement.HOW DARE HE OR WHOMEVER ELSE WAS RESPONSIBLE RUIN THIS VERY IMPORTANT HISTORICAL EVENT!

  4. Craig says:

    Did not watch. Bored by lectures blaming 80percent of population for the troubles of the 20percent who cannot see that people don’t get shot if they aren’t doing the wrong thing – such as skirting the law OR flat out committing a crime. People who obey laws are not shot running away from police – because they are not near the police in the first place. Single parent families white and minority are a big problem.

  5. DM says:

    The Oscars are supposed to be about films, but Hollywood is so emo, the Oscars telecast spent the 90 minute pre-show and the actual show endlessly spouting off on social issues. When the participants, from the interviewers to the stars, to the presenters drone on endlessly about social issues that are ‘so important’ they lose half the audience. This year the diversity issue was fair game considering its pertinence to the Oscars, but should have been the domain of the host, and the rest of it is drivel that belongs in other contexts.

  6. Kitcat_007 says:

    The Oscars time has expired anyway. Secret membership in a racist gay j w i s h natzi run industry. The ratings keep going down for over ten years now, but no one wants to dare discuss.it. The show always ends with hours of discussing fashion. Movie theaters are empty, the media obsession over the Kardashians prove ANYBODY can be turned into a celebrity, and only a remnant watches tv anymore.

    Who are they.kidding here, this is a dead horse, stop beating it already, just bury this beast already!

  7. Susan says:

    With the plethora of award show, you’d think Hollywood and entertainment industries accomplished something extraordinary.

    Get over yourselves. You didn’t cure cancer, solve the Middle East problem or produce cold fusion. The back-patting ad nauseam is, well, nauseating.

  8. john says:

    Al Sharpton should stop praising himself for lowering the ratings of the Grammys. He is nothing but a big mouth who should go get a real job. He is the Con artist here. He does nothing for America and people and media who glorify this guy are idiots also. Second why do we listen or care about the views of the Hollywood stars as they are the most messed up, divorced up, drugged up , egotistic people around.
    Al your the problem with this country

  9. H.M.L. says:

    Hence, let me make my own inert racially divisive comments to show how angry I am at this telecast. Yes, that makes sense.

  10. Shawna Craig says:

    May be people are tired of this pretentious crowd regardless of the diversity issue. They are OVER paid and everyone they hang with blows sunshine up their butts. They all start believing their own hype. It gets old when you are a regular Joe trying to make a living.

  11. Julienne says:

    My family and I are of blended races and we used to love having an Oscar Parties every year. That ended last night.

    We were shocked at the blatant race-pandering gags, clips and comments of the show & the host Chris Rock. If the Academy Awards are turning into some type of affirmative action show, we will no longer support the moving picture industry.

  12. One of the worst Oscar shows ever. Boring, no big stars, uncomfortable, and just plain bad.

  13. cadavra says:

    Given that 20% of Donald Trump’s supporters openly admit that “slavery was okay,” it shouldn’t be a surprise that having a Black host would automatically result in lower ratings. Most of the comments here confirm this.

    • Feel the Bern! says:

      This guy again. HRC rump sniffer.

    • Julienne says:

      You must be hittin that crack-pipe again mr cadavra. My family and I are voting for Trump and we are mixed races. If you must make such ludicrous accusations, you must have proof of such lies.

      • cadavra says:

        Per Time Magazine: “Nearly 20% of Trump supporters did not approve of freeing the slaves, according to a January YouGov/Economist poll.”

        Of course, being Fox News watchers, you’re probably unfamiliar with actual facts.

  14. annie says:

    I’ve stopped watching because it’s boring! Give me the days of Billy Chrystal, Whoopi Goldberg, lots of other better hosts a couple of decades ago… good production numbers, genuine humor, GOOD MOVIES (am a 4th generation cinephile..so I know films pretty well)…genuine glamour and beauty….kindness…

  15. The Truth says:

    Many in our country do not want to see any non-sports show hosted by a black man, much less our most popular awards show. While we’ve made progress as a nation regarding racial, ethnic, and gender equality — as well as other critical issues — grave problems still exist that a substantial number of our citizens would rather ignore than confront and resolve. Certainly the Academy knew they’d be rubbing a lot of viewers the “wrong” way with material that banged the diversity gong over and over. But abrasive advocacy of this nature serves an important if discomforting social and political service. And as Bryan Cranston aptly put it regarding the Academy membership, “If we don’t lead, who will?” This goes for many issues other than race, like justice, environmental protection, sexual abuse, sexual orientation acceptance, financial market manipulation, and affordable quality healthcare for all. Those who have ready access to public attention have every right — and from my perspective a responsibility — to use the spotlight to advance the public good for everyone, which we all should be doing in our own ways. Stories, songs, and virtually every form of artistic expression have stirred controversy since the beginning of time. So if you don’t like the rhetorical agenda of the entertainment community at awards shows or any other form of media, good luck.

  16. powersmolinar says:

    The only thing I’d be less likely to watch than the Oscars is an Obama speech. Bunch of self-absorbed, self-important adult adolescents. No thanks.

    • Julienne says:

      Agreed. It annoys us, that actors that have never gone to Law school, or have the slightest statistical idea what they’re talking about, begin making illogical Political statements about someone else they don’t know. The industry is quickly going down-hill with uneducated actors leading the way.

    • Jar Jar Box-Office says:

      But yet you’re here at this site commenting. Leave, troll.

  17. This was the worst Oscar telecast in 50 years. Chris Rock was great, and I fully support the social issues that were raised, but the event was a travesty of a mockery of a sham. The musical interludes that introduced and played off the presenters and honorees were completely random and often highly inappropriate. Brie Larson exiting to a James Bond melody instead of a snippet of Room score was inexplicable and painful. In the past, I have felt some appreciation for the most critically damned telecasts, but this one was a wretched clunker. What was happening during the Fifty Shades of Gray performance? Why the three little Asian kids standing in for PriceWaterhouseCoopers? Over and over—what? why? uhhhhhhh?

    • john says:

      Chris Rock should have done the show without his political remarks for an awards show. I am sick of all these groups and races crying about discrimination. Folks if you work hard success follows as I have lots of friends of all races and they do just fine., If your not on the street and breaking the law you have no worries. If the neighborhoods won’t talk the hood will never get better. And if you can turn 1500.00 in the streets to 200,000 would a drug dealer flip burgers for the new minimum wage of 14- 16.00 dollars and hour. That’s the real world

    • cadavra says:

      That’s what is known as a joke. Y’see, Asian kids are supposedly geniuses at math, so…

  18. Kate says:

    Why would we watch when the ”winners” have been decided months in advance. It takes the joy and suspense away.

  19. Jon says:

    I only watched snippets off the internet, but the skit where they superimposed popular black actors in nominated movies was in really poor taste and not funny at all. Looked like something MTV would do… not the Oscars.

  20. JayB says:

    Show was horrible !! Race baiting through out the whole show !!

  21. litekepr112 says:

    Ratings were down because it was really bad — I tried to watch it several times last night and the jokes weren’t funny, the filler clips were tacky and on and on and on…..

  22. Darla says:

    The black reference became too much and ended up being a mockery. Why can the blacks have their own awards show where white people aren’t even taken into consideration and also why do they get their own history month. Seems to me if they want to be looked upon as equal, they should give those up and be included with the rest of us. The show was a yawn and offensive.

  23. William T. Jones says:

    My wife was really enthused about viewing the Oscars. After about an hour she had had enough. The reason? The heavy handed ongoing comments about the lack of African-American nominees.

    I expected and supported Chris Rock’s opening monolog about situation. I agree with the premise that Black actors were shortchanged. But he just kept mincing and dicing the issue like a meat grinder for the entire program. It got tired and tiresome.

    At 10:25 PM I gave up on the show when Rock went to interview African Americans in the street. It’s the first time in all the years that I have watched the Oscars that I gave up on the show before the end, and I’ve been watching the Oscar ceremonies since the 1960s.

  24. I have to say I’m glad the ratings were low, maybe they’ll stop telecasting this show altogether.

    • cadavra says:

      No one puts a gun to your head and forces you to watch it.

      • Steve says:

        But for some reason, although Oscar ratings decline just about every year, the other channels are only willing to play reruns. I’m sure these award shows are fun to attend and it’s nice to be recognized by your peers but to air a party like this on TV and expect others to want to watch it is just a bit much. Surely one of the dozen or so shows about watching celebrities could cover award shows well enough that they didn’t need to take up prime-time program slots.

  25. Maja says:

    With Nielsen ratings on a spectacular low. For us handful of dedicated viewers over here in old dear Europe. Does it mean Pro7 will skip the telecast altogether? And we must go to #Netflix to be able to watch it?

  26. Mirna says:

    woww amazing Oscar 2016,HAPPY!

  27. Sal says:

    Really….a racist liberal hosting the oscars? There was no dancing and singing, from this host, just constant whining all through the show. This program is about acting and receiving the highest reward and not winners opinions of war or the earth. This award show was a huge disappointment!!

    • William T. Jones says:

      Leonardo DiCaprio has made a ton of money in Hollywood, and if he is playing is cards right won’t have to worry about his finances for the rest of his life. Others of us are concerned about the effects of sky high energy prices from climate change regulations and taxes on the economy. Climate change regulations are job killers which will hit the middle and lower classes the hardest. Sure, the government can pay subsidies to the poor to help with their energy bills, but it won’t help them find jobs to improve their economic situation.

      When DiCaprio starts addressing all aspects of the climate change issue, his comments will worth analyzing. Otherwise he will be just one more Hollywood liberal who thinks that he has the right control of the lives of other people because he has been fortunate enough to win a major award.

      • Julienne says:

        Thank God intelligent people understand that Leo is pandering to the uneducated viewers and audience members. Because that facts display, that this past decade was overall the coldest in 30 years.

    • Dex says:

      Get over it. The Oscars have always been a platform for various artists, so opinions of “war or the earth” are nothing new. If you were stupid enough to tune in despite that, it’s your own fault.

      • I for one did not want to see a racist comic bash another race. I found what I did watch of the show repulsive and I have to thank the acadamey because I’ll never watch the Oscars again.

  28. Greg says:

    I skipped the show …. I did not want to see another Black man tell me why Black peoples lives matter more then everyone else’s lives

  29. Ben says:

    This is the first year I did not watch ( To liberal for me and I am a Democrat )

  30. tom joseph says:

    I am a movie fan for many years. I think that Hollywood is the most racial blind area in the U.S. They have given black stars opportunities that nobody would have dreamed of 30 years ago. Hollywood should stand up for itself. The boycott by blacks is a joke It will be people like me who will tune out the Oscars. Tom

  31. Adam says:

    So did the racial controversy turn viewers off or are the declining ratings due to more and more people not caring about silly awards shows?

  32. Beckmann says:

    Not surprising viewership when you hyper politicize an entertainment event till it starts to look like a political convention. Many of us don’t care to be preached to from the right or the left . This year it was supposed to be all about diversity but other minorities were barely present or even mentioned . A quarter of the presenters were black with other minorities account for about half as much combined and the pairing of Sofia Vegera a Latina with an Asian seemed an almost parody …two for the price of one . The transgendered singer songwriter up for best song wasn’t allowed to perform hmm imagine what would have happened if Weekend had been the one left out . This is Diversity ?

  33. T0rchwood says:

    The reason ratings are down was because all the movies were CRAP. I wouldn’t watch any of them FOR FREE, much less pay and waste 3 hours of my life. NO ONE CARES about some producers vanity project. Which probably explains why Star Wars made more than all the nominated movies. COMBINED.

  34. Jim wheeler says:


    • Julienne says:

      It was obvious he is a racist. When you present an Awards show and it becomes about skin color instead…you have lost all credibility.

More TV News from Variety