Even with high expectations for Chris Rock’s turn as host amid a widely publicized diversity controversy, the turnout for Sunday’s Academy Awards telecast was down. The Los Angeles Times reports that the ABC broadcast delivered 34.3 million viewers, down 6% from the 2015 event and on track to be the smallest audience since 2008.
Final numbers are due Tuesday from Nielsen.
The 2008 ceremony, hosted by Jon Stewart, delivered an all-time low for the Academy Awards, with 32 million viewers. “No Country For Old Men” was the winner that year for Best Picture — one of the lowest-grossing films ever to receive the honor.
“Ratings for The Oscars have generally been on the decline since the last time Rock hosted the program in 2005,” the Times reports. “Increased program choices provided by online streaming services and a crowded televised awards season (The Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild Awards proceed The Oscars) are the main culprits.”
ABC had its own spin on the Oscars turnout, noting that the audience grew from last year in the 18-34 demo, perhaps indicating interest in Rock among young viewers. ABC also noted that it was a big night for the network vs. its broadcast competition.
“With its broadcast of the ’88th Annual Academy Awards,’ ABC towered over Sunday’s prime, outdelivering its combined broadcast competition (CBS, NBC and Fox) by 184% in Total Viewers (28.1 million vs. 9.9 million) and by 295% in Adults 18-49 (8.3/24 vs. 2.1/6),” ABC said in an announcement.
ABC said it was TV’s biggest entertainment telecast in a year, since last year’s Oscars, which aired on Feb. 22, 2015.
“The 2016 ‘Academy Awards’ retained 94% of last year’s Total Viewers and 96% among Adults 18-49 in the Fast National ratings (36.6 million and 10.8 rating in Adults 18-49 on 2/22/15), which adjusted up in the National numbers (to 37.3 million and 11.0 rating in Adults 18-49),” the network said. “In addition, the Chris Rock-hosted ceremony grew year to year with Adults 18-34 (+1% – 9.4 rating vs. 9.3 rating) and across all key Men demos: +20% M18-34 (8.5 vs. 7.1), +6% M18-49 (9.4 vs. 8.9) and +1% M25-54 (10.3 vs. 10.2).”