UPDATE: Nielsen is now reporting that total viewership for the Oscars actually surged by 13%, pulling in more than 36 million viewers. The largest audience was from 10-10:30 PM, which means a lot of people must’ve known that’s when Heath Ledger would be getting his award. Imagine how many viewers the show could’ve gotten if the Academy had decided to recognise The Dark Knight in some of the other major categories.
This year’s Oscars may have the third-smallest audience for the ceremony in the past 40 years, but it is the most-watched entertainment telecast since the 2007 Oscars and the third most-watched program of the year, after the Super Bowl and football’s AFC championship on CBS, which drew 40.65 million viewers.
EARLIER: Say what you will about last night’s Oscar ceremony (and we certainly had our own knee-jerk reactions that we liveblogged), but it seems the revamped ceremony did manage to bring back viewers.
Early overnight estimates show that ratings for the Academy Awards were up 6% from last year’s record low. Total viewer estimates will be released later, but here’s Nielsen’s early data, courtesy of Variety.
According to the Nielsen estimates, which measure roughly 50 of the biggest markets in the U.S., the Oscars averaged a 23.3 household rating/35 share from 8:30 to about 11:45 p.m. ET. Last year’s telecast averaged a 21.9/33 in the overnights, translating to about 32 million viewers nationally.
So this year’s broadcast should have pulled in more than 32 million viewers.