Oscar Show 2016: Lowest Ratings in 8 Years!

Ratings for Sunday’s Oscar ceremonies on ABC were down to what appears to be the show’s lowest number in eight years.

In Nielsen’s metered market overnights, which include 56 of the nation’s largest markets, the Chris Rock-hosted 88th Annual Academy Awards averaged a still-big 23.4 household rating/36 share from 8:30 to midnight ET, down 6% from last year’s 25.0/38 and 16% below the 10-year high of 27.9/41 from two years ago.

The previous low-water mark in the overnights came in 2008 when the Jon Stewart-hosted Oscars delivered a 21.9/33. That show ended up averaging 32 million viewers, which is the smallest on record, according to Nielsen.

Total-viewer and demo estimates for last night’s Oscars will be released later this morning by Nielsen.  But the telecast, in which Spotlight won the Best Picture and Leonardo DiCaprio win his first Oscar, is expected to finish in the vicinity of 34 million viewers.

Thus, despite declines from recent years, it will easily remain television’s top-rated non-sports program of the year. Sunday’s Oscars out-performed the recent Grammy Awards on CBS by 45% in households and 56% in adults 18-49 in Nielsen’s overnights.

Last year’s Academy Awards ended up averaging its smallest audience in six years (37.26 million) and a seven-year low in the 18-49 demo (11.0 rating/29 share) — down sharply from its especially high ratings of 2014 with Ellen DeGeneres as host (43.74 million, 13.1/33 in the demo).

Civil rights leader Al Sharpton led a boycott of the ceremony in Los Angeles, with about 70 demonstrators marching in a rally to protest the second consecutive year of African-American actors being shut out of the major acting awards. He vowed that “this will be the last night of an all-white Oscars.”

Second-time Oscar host Rock got mostly good reviews for his performance last night.  Chief TV critic of Variety said he made the most of his opportunities, especially with his “scathing and generally well-crafted monologue.”

Decline in Black Viewers

Nielsen is expected to release viewership totals for African-Americans on Tuesday. The minority typically makes up a small percentage of the overall Oscar viewing, with the high in the last 20 years coming when Rock hosted for the first time in 2005 (5.27 million), a year that also featured prominent acting nominations for African-American actors including Jamie Foxx and Don Cheadle. Last year, less than 10% of the overall Oscar viewership (3.29 million of 37.26 million) was black, according to Nielsen.