What Everyone Is Talking About Today

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Well, it looks like Jon Stewart did not single handedly save the Oscars telecast. The reviews on his playing-it-safe performance were decidedly mixed, with several bloggers proclaiming these were the “Worst Oscars ever” and “Yep, he bombed.” Early ratings find the show is down from the last two years.
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Jon Stewart

Early ratings number for the 2006 Academy Awards were surprisingly buoyant, given that none of the movies nominated were mainstream hits. According to Nielsen Media Research’s household rating data, the three-and-a-half-hour show hit a 27.1 rating (percentage of households watching) and a 40 share (percentage of TV sets in use tuned to the show) and, though the numbers are down from ABC’s two previous broadcasts, it’s an improvement from three years ago.

By comparison, last year’s broadcast -- which saw “Million Dollar Baby” win best picture -- drew a 30.1 rating/43 share. When “Lord of the Rings” swept up nearly every award in sight in 2004, household ratings were 29.8/43. This year’s Oscars are on improvement on the dismal 2003 broadcast, which, because most viewers were glued to news about the war in Iraq, pulled a 25.5/37.

The ratings data, supplied by ABC, showed that New Yorkers were among the most avid Oscar watchers. New York was the top market with a 36.5 rating/51 share -- good news for advertisers that bought local. Surprisingly, Los Angeles did not make the top five markets; Chicago was second, then San Francisco, Philadelphia and Atlanta. ABC’s fast national ratings will be delivered today around 3 p.m. EST.

Stewart is already being compared to Bob Hope and Johnny Carson, managing to rescue what at times appeared a tense and nervous event. He wasn’t the worst we’ve seen, but he did seem to lack sparkle, and notably seemed off in his timing.

Watercooler’s best Oscar moments? Mr. Stewart noting that Martin Scorsese has no Oscars, while rap group Three 6 Mafia has one. The rappers picked up the award for best Oscar song, “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp,” from the movie “Hustle and Flow.” We were also glad he slipped in one little Dick Cheney joke (“Bjork couldn’t be here tonight, she was trying on her Oscar dress and Dick Cheney shot her.”) But given the wealth of material inherent in the movies up for awards, we had hoped for more bite. Tune in to “Oprah” today to see how Stewart felt he did. We'll know it was officially bad if she makes him apologize.


Fast National Ratings from Nielsen were released at 3pm. According to those numbers, Sunday night’s Oscar broadcast drew 38.8 million viewers, compared with 42.1 million in 2005, making it the second-least watched Oscars since 1987, the year 37 million tuned in to watch "Platoon" win. In 2003, the nadir of recent Oscar telecasts, just 33 million tuned in.

This year's Oscars delivered a 13.9 rating in the advertiser sought-after 18-49 year old demographic. According to ABC supplied Nielsen data, comedian Jon Stewart helped increase the number of young men watching the show. The number of men in the 18-34 demographic rose by 5% on last year 9.9 rating versus a 9.4 rating. Despite the drop in viewers, the event stands as the most watched entertainment program of the 2005-2006 season, while the Super Bowl, also on ABC, is the highest rated show of the season.

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