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Oscars Draw Third-Lowest Viewership on Record

MyNewsLA logo MyNewsLA 3/15/2023 Contributing Editor

Viewership for the Oscars rebounded from the second-lowest on record to the third-lowest.

ABC’s telecast of Sunday’s three-hour, 17-minute ceremony from the Dolby Theatre averaged 18.755 million viewers, according to live-plus-same-day figures released by Nielsen Tuesday. Viewership was up 12.47% from the 2022 ceremony, which averaged 16.675 million viewers.

The 2021 ceremony has the record low, 10.403 million, part of a sharp decline in viewership for award shows during the coronavirus pandemic when they were held in months they were usually not scheduled for and had format changes prompted by coronavirus-related restrictions.

The Oscar ceremonies since 2018 are the only ones to average less than 30 million viewers. Individual viewership figures have been kept since 1974. The Oscars have aired on ABC each year since 1976. The network’s contract with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to air them runs through 2028.

Sunday’s ceremony was the most-watched awards show since the 2020 Oscars, which averaged 23.639 million viewers

By comparison, viewership for CBS’ coverage of the Grammy Awards Feb. 5 was up 30.8% from 2022, but still the third-lowest on record. The first 3 hours, 12 minutes of the ceremony from Arena averaged 12.545 million viewers.

Under Nielsen rules, the ratings cover the time from the start of the ceremony until the end of the final commercial break. The ceremony’s final 42 minutes ran without commercials and were considered a separate program. It averaged 10.139 million viewers.

The 2022 Grammys, which was delayed to April due to a surge in COVID-19 cases in the Los Angeles area, averaged 9.587 million viewers, airing when television viewing is traditionally lower because of better weather and more sunshine caused by the shift to daylight saving time.

The Primetime Emmy Awards on NBC Sept. 12 averaged 5.924 million viewers, its seventh record low in eight years. The previous low was 6.36 million in 2020 when it aired on ABC. The Emmy Awards annually rotate among the four major broadcast networks.

Like nearly all forms of programming, viewership for awards shows has declined in recent years because of increased options available on streaming services, including the same programs as on traditional television.

The Oscars averaged about one-sixth of the viewership of the 113.055 million average for Fox’s telecast of Super Bowl LVII Feb. 12 but did top ESPN’s coverage of the College Football Playoff title game Jan. 9 which averaged 16.627 million viewers for Georgia’s 65-7 victory over TCU.

The Oscars gave ABC it first weekly ratings victory of the 25-week-old 2022-23 prime-time television series, averaging 5.04 million viewers between March 6 and Sunday. CBS finished second after five first-place finishes in six weeks, averaging 3.93 million viewers. NBC was third, averaging 3.04 million viewers.

All three networks aired 22 hours of prime-time programming.

The CBS comedy “Young Sheldon” was the only non-Oscars-related program to average more than 7 million viewers, averaging 7.658 million, third for the week.

ABC’s most-watched non-Oscars program was its drama about Seattle firefighters, “Station 19,” 21st for the week, averaging 3.975 million viewers.

The first two episodes of the spring season of the singing competition “The Voice” were NBC’s two most-watched programs. The two-hour season premiere March 6 averaged 6.436 million viewers, fifth for the week, while the hourlong blind auditions episode the following night averaged 5.121 million viewers, 12th for the week.

Fox averaged 2.14 million viewers for its 16 hours of prime-time programming. The first original episode of the procedural drama “9-1-1” since Nov. 28 was its most-watched program, finishing 13th for the week, averaging 4.954 million viewers.

Fox aired the only premiere on the five major English-language networks, the dating series, “Farmer Wants a Wife,” which was third in its 9-10 p.m. time slot Wednesday and tied for 59th for the week with the ABC comedy “The Goldbergs,” averaging 2.463 million viewers.

“Farmer Wants a Wife” was Fox’s fourth most-watched program of the week. It retained 61.3% of the audience of “The Masked Singer,” which preceded it. “The Masked Singer” averaged 4.017 million viewers, third among Fox programs and 20th for the week.

The CW averaged 400,000 viewers for its 14 hours of programming. Its most-watched program for the fourth time in six weeks was the magic competition series “Penn & Teller: Fool Us,” which averaged 570,000 viewers, 181st among broadcast programs. Its overall ranking was not available.

The 20 most-watched prime-time programs consisted of the Oscars and two red carpet programs preceding it; nine CBS scripted programs, its news magazine “60 Minutes” and its alternative series “Survivor”; two editions of the NBC singing competition, “The Voice”; three Fox programs, “9-1-1,” its spinoff “9-1-1: Lone Star,” and the singing competition, “The Masked Singer”; and the March 7 edition of the Fox News Channel political talk show, “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”

Each of the five most-watched prime-time cable programs were editions of “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” topped by the Tuesday broadcast, which averaged 4.136 million viewers, 19th overall.

Fox News Channel was the most-watched cable network in prime time for the seventh consecutive week, averaging 2.199 million viewers. ESPN was second for the third consecutive week, averaging 1.285 million. MSNBC finished third for the fourth consecutive week following a second-place finish, averaging 1.053 million.

The cable top 20 consisted of 14 Fox News Channel weeknight talk shows (five broadcasts each of “Tucker Carlson Tonight” and “Hannity” and four of “The Ingraham Angle”); ESPN’s coverage of Duke’s 59-49 victory over Virginia in the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament championship and the 22-minute scoreboard show preceding it and following Texas’ 76-56 victory over Kansas in the Big 12 Tournament championship; History’s long-running chronicle of a search for treasure on a Canadian island, “The Curse of Oak Island”; the MSNBC news and opinion program, “The Rachel Maddow Show”; and the first two hourlong segments of the USA Network professional wrestling program “WWE Raw.”

The season finale of “The Last of Us,” “set another ratings high on Sunday night, delivering 8.2 million viewers across HBO Max and linear telecasts, based on Nielsen and first-party data,” according to a statement released Monday by Warner Bros. Discovery Streaming.

The post-apocalyptic drama failed to make Nielsen’s top 40 cable programs for the week, which covers all dayparts and required minimum average viewership of 1.855 million viewers.

“The Glory” was Netflix’s most-watched program, with viewers spending 124.46 million hours watching the 16 episodes of the South Korean revenge thriller, including the second eight episodes of the first season that were released Friday.

“Luther: The Fallen Sun” was Netflix’s most-watched movie, with viewers watching the continuation of the BBC psychological crime thriller for 65.92 million hours the first three days it was available.

For the second consecutive week, each of the five most-watched Spanish-language programs were episodes of the Univision telenovela, “Mi Camino es Amarteo.” The March 8 episode was the most-watched, averaging 1.601 million viewers, 71st among broadcast programs. Its overall ranking was not available.

Univision was the most-watched Spanish-language network for the 31st consecutive week and 169th time in 171 weeks, averaging 1.31 million viewers. Telemundo was second, averaging 970,000 viewers, followed by UniMas (400,000) and Estrella TV (80,000).

ABC’s “World News Tonight with David Muir” was the most-watched nightly newscast for 170th time in 171 weeks and 222nd time in 224 weeks, averaging 8.396 million viewers. “NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt” was second, averaging 7.07 million viewers, and the “CBS Evening News with Norah O’Donnell” third, averaging 4.967 million viewers.

The week’s 10 most-watched prime-time programs were ABC’s telecast of the 95th Oscars ceremony and the 33-minute “Live From the Red Carpet” show preceding it; CBS’ “Young Sheldon” and “Ghosts”; the March 6 episode of NBC’s singing competition “The Voice”; CBS’ “60 Minutes” and “Blue Bloods”; a 30-minute “Live From the Red Carpet” show; and CBS’ “The Equalizer” and “Fire Country.”



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