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.