Oscar Show 2011: Smaller Audience than for Grammys

Also, according to Nielsen, the show drew an 11.7 rating among adults 18-49, on par with last year’s 11.8 but better than only the 2008 show (10.7 rating).

Art films like “The Artist” and “Hugo” were among the big winners Sunday, but the Oscars probably benefited from a concerted effort by the Academy and ABC to make the awards show more relevant to younger viewers via social media. The return of popular host Billy Crystal likely brought many viewers back to the show.

Grammys More Popular than Oscars

Both the demo score and total viewer count lag this month’s Grammy Awards telecast on CBS (14.1 rating in 18-49, 39.9 million viewers overall). The last time the Grammy Awards outdrew the Academy Awards was in 1984 when Michael Jackson moonwalked his way to a sweep of the top categories before a crowd of 43.8 million viewers, followed a month later by the Oscars, which drew 42.1 million for a telecast capped by “Terms of Endearment” winning named best picture.

New York and Chicago

The highest-rated local markets for the Oscars were New York (36.9 rating), Chicago (33.8 rating), West Palm Beach (32.5 rating), and Los Angeles and Boston (both with a 31.9 rating). At the other end of the spectrum, the lowest scores among Nielsen’s 56 metered markets were Greensboro (14.3), Memphis (15.0), Jacksonville (15.6), Dayton (16.4) and Greenville (17.2).

This year’s Oscars faced more direct competition from high-profile original programming, but the biggest of them – the NBA All-Star Game on TNT and hot zombie drama “The Walking Dead” on AMC – figured to skew younger and much more male than the awards show. The basketball game, airing later in February than usual and opposite the Oscars for the first time, averaged a good 5.4 household rating in Nielsen’s metered markets, the second best since the 2005 exhibition did a 5.9.

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: ABC, 8.8/21; CBS, 1.4/3; Fox and NBC, 1.3/3; Univision, 0.9/2.

In total viewers: ABC, 30.5 million; CBS, 6.2 million; NBC, 4.4 million; Fox, 3.1 million; Univision, 2.4 million.