They’ll be talking about this year’s Oscars for years to come, but it won’t be because of the ratings.
The final Oscar ratings are in – and unless someone switched the envelope on us (a very real possibility, apparently), the 2017 Academy Awards averaged 32.9 million viewers and a 9.1 rating among adults 18-49.
That’s down from last year’s already slumping 34.3 million viewers and 10.4 in the demo. It also continues a decline that started after 2014’s show, which brought in 43.7 million viewers.
On the positive side, the 89th Oscars was still the No. 1 entertainment telecast in a year, since last year’s Oscar telecast. It also outdrew the year’s other major awards shows (the Golden Globes, at 20 million, and the Grammy Awards, at 26.1 million).
On social media, ABC reports (via Nielsen data) that a total of 8.4 million people generated 22.1 million social media interactions across Facebook and Twitter during Sunday’s Oscars telecast.
In the nation’s 56 metered markets, the 89th Oscars averaged a 22.4 rating and 36 share – compared to 23.1/37 last year and 24.6/39 in 2015. According to ABC, the highest-rated markets were New York (31.1 rating), San Diego (30.7 rating), Los Angeles (30.5 rating), Chicago (30.5 rating) and San Francisco (30.3 rating).
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These returns are a bit of a disappointment for ABC and host Jimmy Kimmel, who finally took over the telecast as host this year.
Kimmel earned high marks for his inaugural Oscar gig, which came just months after he also received praise for hosting the Emmys. Positive buzz likely helped the show throughout the evening, although its final numbers may be negatively impacted by the long run time.
At approximately 3 hours and 49 minutes, this was the longest Oscar telecast in at least a decade. (It still doesn’t come close to a handful of broadcasts that clocked over 4 hours in the early 2000s, however.) Unfortunately for ABC, the big “Moonlight”/”La La Land” debacle happened at the very end of the night, which means there was no time for the telecast to suddenly get a last-minute viewership boost thanks to social media.
Last year’s Academy Awards, hosted by Chris Rock, averaged 34.5 million viewers, which was the show’s smallest audience since 2008 (32 million). In the adults 18-49 demo, it posted a 10.5 rating (down from 11.0 in 2015).
Among the Oscars’ chief competition: AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” TV’s top-rated entertainment program with adults 18-49. Also perhaps impacting viewership: Some of the movies honored on Sunday haven’t been widely seen (a running joke that Kimmel used throughout the night). This year’s nine best picture nominees have grossed a combined $656 million – down from last year’s eight films ($806 million).
“Moonlight,” for example, has so far taken in a little more than $22 million at the box office, making it the second-smallest grossing movie to win best picture since at least 1978, according to Box Office Mojo. (Only 2010 winner “The Hurt Locker” was smaller.) Of course, almost-winner “La La Land,” which still picked up six Oscars, has been well-received commercially with a box office total of $141 million.
Although Kimmel has hosted plenty of awards shows, the Oscars are a unique challenge – and Kimmel was the first late night broadcast network talk show host to emcee the telecast since his idol, David Letterman, did it in 1995.