UPDATED: The 2018 Academy Awards telecast on ABC attracted 26.5 million viewers across the nearly four-hour show on Sunday night.
While that was good enough to handily top all of Sunday’s broadcast competition and most of the award shows of the past year, it is still the least-watched Oscars to date. The drop off was not entirely unexpected, as the audiences for most award shows have seen declines in recent years. As it stands, the 2018 Oscars are down approximately 19% compared to 2017.
PREVIOUSLY: Live viewership of the 90th annual Academy Awards ceremony was down significantly from the 2017 telecast, according to preliminary Nielsen ratings for ABC’s nearly four-hour telecast.
The 8 p.m.-11 p.m. portion of ABC’s telecast averaged an 18.9 household rating and 32 share in Nielsen’s metered market overnight ratings, which cover about 70% of U.S. TV households. That’s down about 16% from the 22.5/37 rating generated by the 2017 Oscars.
However, the preliminary ratings are not adjusted for time zone differences. ABC’s 8 p.m.-11:48 p.m. ET Oscarcast aired live coast to coast, which means the live West Coast viewership is not accurately reflected in the overnight numbers that measure only primetime hours in all markets. Nor do they include viewership from the post-11 p.m. final 48 minutes when the most prominent awards were handed out to winners that included Gary Oldman as best actor, for “Darkest Hour,” and Frances McDormand, for “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.”
In the fast nationals, which are also not time zone adjusted, the Oscars telecast averaged a 6.4 rating in adults 18-49 and 24.4 million viewers, compared to the 8.7 rating and 29.1 million viewers the 2017 telecast drew in the preliminary numbers. 2017’s telecast eventually rose to a 9.1 and 32.9 million viewers. ABC will likely see a lift in the numbers once the final data becomes available later today, but as it currently stands, the 2018 Oscars telecast is at an all-time low in the ratings.
Nonetheless, the overnights give a glimpse of the baseline turnout for the ceremony that crowned the fantasy drama “The Shape of Water” as best picture.
Despite the drop, ABC was the dominant network of the night, easily topping its Big Four competitors combined.
As it currently stands, ABC averaged a 5.8 rating and 22.4 million viewers on Sunday night. NBC averaged a 0.6, while CBS and Fox tied with a 0.5 CBS averaged 4.5 million viewers, while NBC drew 2.7 million and Fox drew 1.7 million.