Oscars Draw 18.7 Million Viewers, Up 12% From Last Year

Viewership was up Sunday when an average of 18.7 million viewers tuned in to see “Everything Everywhere All at Once” earn best picture honors and dominate the 95th Oscars on ABC with seven wins. That’s according to early, time zone-adjusted ratings from Nielsen, which includes out-of-home viewing — but keep in mind, that number could change when the final nationals are in.

The Oscars, which repped the return of host Jimmy Kimmel for the first time since 2018, was up 12% from last year’s ratings. And according to those time-zone-adjusted fast-national numbers from Nielsen, it bested the previous year’s 3.8 rating by 5% in key adults 18-49, earning a 4.0 in the demo.

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This year’s telecast faced tough competition from HBO’s season finale of breakout smash “The Last of Us” — whose star, Pedro Pascal, was ironically a presenter on the kudocast. But it also benefited presumably from more interest in this year’s Oscars competition given the presence of popular films like “Everything Everywhere,” “Avatar” and “Top Gun Maverick” in the race — not to mention the fact that audiences might have been curious about how Kimmel and the teleast would address last year’s slap by Will Smith against presenter Chris Rock.

Looking at last year’s similarly preliminary fast-national data, the 2022 ceremony drew 15.36 million viewers and a 3.2 rating among adults 18-49.

The 2023 Oscars, which aired live from 8 p.m. to roughly 11:39 p.m. ET, were also the first from producing team of Glenn Weiss and Ricky Kirshner — live TV vets who filled that role after several years of film producers overseeing the event.

Final “live + same day” Nielsen data for the 95th Oscars will be available Tuesday. Early fast-affiliate Nielsen numbers for Sunday’s Oscars reported by some outlets Monday are not time-zone adjusted and do not factor in West Coast viewing of the awards show.

ABC execs were also bracing for unusual numbers because Sunday marked the start of Daylight Saving Time, and it was possible viewership could’ve been affected by the hour time change.

Ratings for the Oscars have been critically lower in recent years hitting a record low in 2021 of 10.5 million viewers and a 2.2 rating among the key adults 18-49 demographic.

The 2022 telecast, which featured a remote performance from Beyoncé as well as that shocking altercation between Rock and Smith, drew 16.6 million viewers according to live + same day Nielsen data — that’s a 58% jump from the previous year and averaged a 3.8 rating (73% increase from 2021) in the key adult 18-49 demographic. After additional time-shifted viewing in the days that followed, the telecast wound up pulling 17.6 million viewers, making it the most-watched non-sports program of last year.

But despite the good growth, the show still only managed to rank as the second-worst viewership and ratings performance in the history of the Oscars.

Last year’s show was touted as “the most social Oscars telecast on record,” according to ABC and the Academy, with 22.7 million total social interactions and spiking 139% over last year’s broadcast (9.5 million). The broadcast garnered 16 million video views across Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

The record for an Oscars telecast remains the landmark 1998 entry, where an average of 55.3 million viewers watched “Titanic” win best picture. As recently as 2014, the Oscars still drew 43.6 million viewers (when “12 Years a Slave” won). The last time the Oscars scored more than 30 million viewers was 2017 (33 million, when “Moonlight” won) and the last time it crossed the 20 million threshold was the pre-pandemic 2020 show (23.6 million, the year “Parasite” was victorious).

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