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Final Oscar Ratings: 34.4 Million Viewers, Down Only 2% Among Blacks

Nielsen on Tuesday put the finishing touches on the same-day ratings report for Sunday’s telecast of the Chris Rock-hosted Oscars on ABC, with ethnic breakdowns showing viewership among African-Americans down by a smaller amount than the decline among all viewers.

An estimated 3.22 million African-Americans were watching during any average minute of the Oscars, a dip of 2% from last year (3.29 million) and the smallest crowd since 2.96 million watched the 2012 show. African-Americans accounted for roughly 9.4% of the overall audience.

Oscar viewership among blacks has never been all that substantial, though it has spiked in years with an African-American host or in a year when blacks are represented prominently among nominees for top prizes. The peak tune-in among blacks came in Rock’s first turn as host in 2005 — 5.27 million (12.5% of the audience) — a year that also saw major awards recognition for a pair of films fronted by African-Americans: “Ray” and “Hotel Rwanda.”

Sunday marked the second consecutive Oscarcast in which none of the major acting nominees was black. However, Rock’s popularity among the black audience likely mitigated the effects of a viewer boycott led by Rev. Al Sharpton and kept the year-over-year decline among African-Americans smaller than it might have been in this controversial year with a Caucasian host.

On average over the last 10 years, blacks have comprised about 9% of the audience for the Oscars. By comparison, the Feb. 15 telecast of the Grammy Awards on CBS averaged 4.16 million African-Americans, according to Nielsen, or 16.7% of the overall viewership (24.95 million).

Looking at the final same-day overall ratings numbers for the “88th Annual Academy Awards,” the kudocast finished with 34.425 million total viewers and a 10.5 rating/31 share in adults 18-49. In both categories, it edged up slightly from the “fast national” averages reported Monday (34.3 million, 10.4 in the demo).

Compared with last year with Neil Patrick Harris as host, Sunday’s Oscars were down by 7.6% in total viewers (34.425 million vs. 37.257 million) for the show’s smallest overall audience in eight years. Other than 2008 (32.01 million), the only other Oscars to draw a smaller crowd came in 2003 (33.04 million).

In adults 18-49, this year’s 10.5 rating is down 5% from last year (11.0) and believed to be the lowest on record; the previous low in the last 30 years was 2008 (10.7).

It was a better story, though, in adults 18-34, with this year’s rating was up 1% year-over-year (9.4 vs. 9.3). And perhaps due to Rock and male-friendly nominated movies like “The Revenant” and “Mad Max: Fury Road,” this year’s kudocast was up 20% in men 18-34 (8.5 vs. 7.1) though down by 9% in women of the same age (10.4 vs. 11.4).

While there was some thought that a large number of viewers might tune in just to see how Rock addressed the diversity controversy in his monologue, that isn’t really borne out in more detailed quarter-hour ratings. According to Nielsen, the opening 15 minutes (8:30-8:45 p.m. ET) scored a 10.4 rating in adults 18-49 and 35.84 million viewers overall — on par with the show’s overall demo average and a bit below its total-viewer average.

The show’s peak quarter-hour in adults 18-49 came at both 10:15 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. with a 10.9 rating (10.9% of adults under 50 watching). In total viewers, the peak did come earlier, with about 36.46 million watching the 9-9:15 p.m ET quarter hour before dropping to about 35 million viewers and staying roughly there until about 10:30.

The Oscars continue to start and end later than all other major awards shows, making it hard for many in the eastern part of the country to stick around til the end. Even though many wanted to see Leonardo DiCaprio win his first Oscar, viewership had dipped to about 31 million viewers by the time he triumphantly took the stage around midnight ET.

DVR playback is expected to only minimally boost the “live plus-3” numbers for the Academy Awards. Last year, the increase from “same-day” was less than 5% in both 18-49 (11.0 to 11.4) and total viewers (37.26 million to 38.43 million).

 

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