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Oscars Ratings Hit Modern Viewership Low, As Audiences Continue To Flee Live TV Events

The Academy Awards experiences the same kind of erosion that most live telecasts are now facing in this age of so many options competing for audience attention.

FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY, NO MARKETING OR ADVERTISING IS PERMITTED WITHOUT THE PRIOR CONSENT OF A.M.P.A.S.Mandatory Credit: Photo by Matt Sayles/A.M.P.A.S./REX/Shutterstock (9448664cv)Jimmy Kimmel and Guillermo del Toro90th Annual Academy Awards, Backstage, Los Angeles, USA - 04 Mar 2018

Jimmy Kimmel and Guillermo del Toro

Matt Sayles/A.M.P.A.S./REX/Shutterstock

Sunday night’s 90th Oscars went smoothly — but with no real controversy, the total audience once again dipped for this year’s telecast. An average of 26.5 million viewers watched this year’s show, which was down from last year’s tally of 32.9 million viewers.

Among adults 18-49, ABC isn’t yet reporting this year’s average yet, but it’s expected to be lower than last year’s 9.1 rating.

Last year’s telecast was already down from 2016, when the telecast brought in 34.3 million viewers and 10.4 in the demo.

On the bright side, the Oscars still beat the other broadcast networks combined, and the telecast is now the season’s No. 1 awards show, above the Grammys and the Golden Globes.

This year’s broadcast started a half hour earlier than usual, at 8 p.m. ET/ 5 p.m. PT. But it still wound up going about 3 hours and 50 minutes — nearly identical to last year’s show, which clocked in at 3 hours and 49 minutes. (That one, of course, wound up adding extra minutes at the end as producers figured out the Best Picture envelope debacle.) This was one of the longest-running Oscar telecasts in history.

The Oscars’ most recent erosion began after 2014’s show, which brought in 43.7 million viewers. But live events in general, still seen as a broadcast network strength, have been hit by declines over the past year or two. Among the other broadcasts seeing dips this year in the numbers: the Super Bowl, the Grammys, and the Winter Olympics.

Ironically, although it made for a more unpredictable race, the fact that there was no widely known frontrunner may have kept some audiences, without a movie to root for, away from the show. And this year’s crop of nominees haven’t necessarily been seen by the masses. The nine Best Picture nominees have grossed a combined $638 million — down from $656 million last year, when Kimmel poked fun at the fact that audiences hadn’t seen that crop of nine nominees. The year before that, in 2016, the eight nominated films grossed $806 million.

This year’s Best Picture honoree, “The Shape of Water,” has grossed around $57.4 million in domestic box office, vs. last year’s winner, “Moonlight,” which had taken in $22 million by the time it won.

According to ABC, the Academy Awards dominated Sunday night’s social conversation with 23 million interactions. (Twitter: 48%, Facebook: 28%, Instagram: 24%). Per the network, the “most social moment” on Twitter occurred at 10:39 p.m. ET with 70,868 interactions after Jordan Peele won the Best Original Screenplay award for “Get Out.”

Kimmel fronted the Oscars for the second consecutive time, making him the first host to oversee back-to-back editions of the awards show since Billy Crystal did it in 1997 and 1998. He’s the first late-night host to repeat as host since Johnny Carson did it from 1979 to 1982.

EARLIER: According to ABC, Sunday night’s Academy Awards averaged a 18.9 rating and 32 share among households in Nielsen’s overnight metered markets, compared to a 22.4/36 last year, and a 22.5/36 in 2016. Despite the dips, the awards show will still be one of the top-rated entertainment telecasts of the year, and dominate Sunday.

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