Oscars Reach 19.5 Million Viewers, the Best Since COVID

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Sunday’s Oscars drew an average of 19.5 million total viewers, according to Nielsen numbers, the most since COVID. The February 9, 2020 Academy Awards averaged 23.6 million viewers, which at the time was an all-time low.

The 2024 Academy Awards on ABC began at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT, an hour earlier than every Oscars in (at least) recent memory. The early start time could have gone either way. The positive spin is that more potential viewers were awake; on the flip side, quite a few viewers may have inadvertently joined late.

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The night belonged to “Oppenheimer” and “Poor Things,” trophies-wise, but to “Barbie’s” Ryan Gosling in terms of buzz. “Oppenheimer” won seven statuettes including Best Supporting Actor for Robert Downey Jr., Best Actor for Cillian Murphy, Best Director for Christopher Nolan, and Best Picture. Find all of the winners here.

The Best Picture nominees were: “American Fiction,” “Anatomy of a Fall,” “Barbie,” “The Holdovers,” “Killers of the Flower Moon,” “Maestro,” “Oppenheimer,” “Past Lives,” “Poor Things,” and “The Zone of Interest.”

“Killers of the Flower Moon” and “Maestro” were both shut out, and “Barbie” won just one award — Best Original Song (“What Was I Made For?” by Billie Eilish) — out of eight nominations.

IndieWire’s TV critic Ben Travers enjoyed the show. Travers, like everyone, loved Gosling’s all-in live performance of “I’m Just Ken” — but he also singled out John Mulaney’s “Field of Dreams” rant and John Cena’s Oscars-streaker bit as highlights of the Sunday night telecast. Travers was not very impressed by Kimmel’s fourth turn as Academy Awards host, though he appreciated an impromptu Donald Trump takedown — read Ben’s review here, he gave the show a “B-” grade.

The 2023 Academy Awards, also hosted by Kimmel, averaged 18.8 million viewers. “Everything Everywhere All at Once” was the big winner in ’23. The ’22 Oscars were the ones when Will Smith slapped Chris Rock on stage; the show was hosted by Regina Hall, Amy Schumer, and Wanda Sykes.

The most-watched Academy Awards ever came in 1998, when “Titanic” won Best Picture and the show averaged 55.2 million viewers. The all-time low came in 2021; the first Oscars after the COVID pandemic began (in the U.S., at least) drew just 10.5 million total viewers.

After the 2024 Oscars, a new “Abbott Elementary” episode reached 6.9 million viewers — a series high.

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