Millions watched the Oscars this year, even with Last Of Us lurking on HBO

Pedro Pascal, Bella Ramsey, and Ke Huy Quan
Pedro Pascal, Bella Ramsey, and Ke Huy Quan

Despite all those murderous mushrooms on HBO, people tuned into the 95th annual Academy Awards. The telecast, which was largely incident-free, save for an imposter mule or two, saw a 12% increase over last year, with 18.7 million viewers. In addition, this year’s ceremony featured a group of nominees that had a broader appeal to younger and international demographics, with the Academy awarding movies that people went to see in theaters. Well, except for All Quiet On The Western Front, which took home four of the most surprising wins of the night.

Things were different this year. There was no industry-shifting celebrity brawl to help the Oscars become “the most social Oscars telecast on record,” with viewers tweeting, “can you believe Will Smith just slapped Chris Rock” as the telecast took a 30-minute break. Instead, Jimmy Kimmel returned to host for the first time since 2018, a booking followed by three consecutive host-free years, and those weren’t even pandemic related. That was a bid to shake up the show. But it seems hosts help move the show along, seeing as Kimmel led a straightforward, no-nonsense ceremony, complete with musical performances and celebrities winning awards.

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The big worry this year was The Last Of Us. Many believed that, like the Super Bowl, when The Last Of Us aired the Friday before to avoid competition, counterprogramming would be bad for business. The Home Box Office must’ve been pretty confident they’d still have an audience for their non-zombie zombie show because the biggest show of the season was not moving for the freaking Oscars.

In the end, they were both winners. Adorable. The Last Of Us reached another series high, drawing 8.2 million viewers, continuing its consistent weekly viewership growth. Variety notes the show did even better this week than the last time they were up against an awards show. Episode 4 took in 7.5 million viewers against the Grammys. To be fair, it’s the Grammys.

There are many reasons why people tuned into this year’s Oscars. Some were probably hoping for another celebrity mix-em-up, others a chance to see a bizarre close-up of Lady Gaga singing that song from Top Gun. Even more likely is that the nominees were movies people saw, such as Everything Everywhere All At Once, Top Gun: Maverick, Elvis, and Avatar: The Way Of Water. Lesson learned: Stop giving awards to whatever Green Book came out this year.

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