TV Ratings: Oscars Ratings Rise by 60 Percent From Last Year’s Low

The audience for ABC's broadcast grows significantly vs. 2021 but still trails previous years by a sizable margin.

The 94th Academy Awards drew a bigger audience than they did in last year’s least watched Oscar ceremony ever. Sunday’s show, however, is still well below past years as both TV viewing and moviegoing have gone through radical changes recently.

ABC’s broadcast of the Oscars drew 16.62 million viewers and a 3.76 rating among adults 18-49 in the final same-day ratings, which include out of home viewing. Earlier figures, which didn’t include out of home, had the show at 15.36 million viewers and a 3.2 in adults 18-49.

Sunday’s show finished well ahead of the final numbers from last year’s scaled-down ceremony, which had all-time lows of 10.4 million viewers and a 2.12 rating in the 18-49 demographic. The Oscars improved by 60 percent in total viewers and 77 percent among adults 18-49.

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The Oscars join several other awards shows in stopping steep ratings declines from the 2020-21 season — though none have reached anywhere near the heights of pre-pandemic viewing. The Emmys and SAG Awards both had sizable gains over their last outings, and the CMA Awards and American Music Awards (both on ABC) were either steady or slightly up over last year.

Despite the year-to-year improvements, though, Sunday’s Oscars will go down as the second-least-watched since Nielsen began tracking total viewers in the mid-1970s. Prior to last year, the audience had never fallen below 20 million viewers.

ABC’s telecast generated huge reaction on social media when Will Smith walked onstage and slapped presenter Chris Rock after the comedian made a joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. That came about two-thirds of the way through the 3 hour, 40 minute ceremony, by which time the audience had been with the show for some two and a half hours. (Data from analytics company Samba TV shows the audience for the Oscars peaking about an hour earlier.)

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March 28, 10:25 a.m. Updated with time zone-adjusted ratings.
March 29, 7:20 a.m. Updated with final same-day ratings.