UPDATED: It was a strange night at the Oscars. Someone still living was listed in the In Memoriam segment. First-time host Jimmy Kimmel attempted to bring non-famous people into the Hollywood fold in a very long comedy bit. Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway were given the wrong envelope to read in the category everyone had stayed up to see (best picture), well beyond midnight on the East Coast. It all made for what Variety critic Sonia Saraiya dubbed “great TV.”
Overall, though, all the drama wasn’t enough to keep the 89th Academy Awards telecast from dipping below the ratings of the last few years. The 2017 Oscars drew an average audience of 32.9 million and a 9.1 rating in the 18-49 demographic (a 13% drop from last year), the smallest audience in nine years, since Jon Stewart hosted in 2008 and pulled a crowd of 31.76 million.
Nielsen’s early numbers had indicated ABC might be looking at a drop in audience. In Nielsen’s metered market overnight ratings, which measure the top 56 markets in the country — representing about 70% of the viewing populace — the telecast brought in a 22.4 household rating/36 share and a 12.7 rating in the 18-49 demographic in Nielsen’s 25 local people meter markets.
The 2016 Oscars, for comparison, brought in a 23.4 household rating and a 36 share, down from 2015’s household rating of 25.0 and 2014’s massive 27.9. Last year’s telecast ended up drawing 34.3 million pairs of eyeballs; 2015, 37.3 million. Both paled in comparison to 2014’s haul of 43.7 million. Sunday’s overnight rating is also just up from the previous low-water mark of 2008, which saw an overnight household rating of 21.9.
The biggest markets for the 2017 Oscars were, unsurprisingly, big metropolitan areas, with a heavy coastal lean:
- New York (31.1 rating)
- San Diego (30.7 rating)
- Los Angeles (30.5 rating)
- Chicago (30.5 rating)
- San Francisco (30.3 rating)