After months of diminishing TV audiences and slumping tentpoles, Hollywood’s biggest night somewhat predictably turned out to be its least-watched in history, capping a turbulent award season of record ratings lows that saw the 93rd Oscars net fewer eyeballs than ever before.
While yesterday’s ceremony was a major victory for some in Hollywood, particularly actors and filmmakers of color, advertisers have been left to grapple with the worst-rated Academy Awards since it was first broadcast on TV in the 1950s: just 9.85 million people tuned in to the hostless ceremony, according to Nielsen’s early live-plus-same-day national returns.
While Nielsen’s seven-digit audience count is preliminary and likely to grow a bit once the Oscars’ time zone-adjusted ratings are calculated, this year’s show is all but certain to face a more than 50% audience drop compared to the dismal ratings of 2020. Last night scored a 1.9 rating in the coveted 18-49 demo in the fast national ratings, down more than 60% from last year, Variety reports.
Advertisers likely knew this would happen. Since the tweaked pandemic-era award season first kicked off last month, program after program has seen TV viewership figures plunge; the Grammys and the Golden Globes, two of the season’s biggest ratings draws, both recorded their weakest respective audiences of all time. (Traditionally, early-in-the-year award shows are a fairly accurate ratings litmus test for the televised events that follow.)
Even the Academy Awards themselves—held pre-pandemic in 2020—are coming off a historic low of 23.6 million viewers last year which, as of last night, makes it the Oscars’ second least-watched ceremony ever.