Despite earlier reports, the viewership of last night’s Oscar telecast attracted significantly less viewers than the year before, with the biggest loss in suburban and rural viewers, David Bauder reports for the AP.
A total of 41.5 million viewers tuned in Sunday to watch “Million Dollar Baby” take the Oscar for best picture. That’s down 2 million from last year’s show, which honored “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King,” according to Nielsen Media Research.
ABC undoubtedly hoped for better, after preliminary figures released earlier Monday from the top 56 markets were the strongest they were in five years.
The drop in total viewership was an indication that this year’s Oscar ceremony was more popular in the big cities than rural areas, more so than an average Academy Awards, said Larry Hyams, vice president of audience analysis and research for ABC.
ABC and the Academy aimed at younger urban viewers with this year’s broadcast, which led them to hire Chris Rock as emcee of film’s biggest night. My opinion of Rock’s performance has been captured in my live-blog of the event. However, even critics who might have been enamored of Rock’s political rants felt the selection harmed the broadcast, and his abrasive and divisive pre-broadcast comments about people who do and don’t watch the Oscars may have had an effect on the audience’s collective yawn.
I’d like to see the full Nielsen analysis, to find out when people started to tune out. I suspect that Rock lost many people during his opening monologue who simply waited until the end of the broadcast to come back for the final few awards.