Oscars Total Viewers Down 6%

The 2016 Academy Awards telecast on ABC averaged a 10.4 rating in adults 18-49, per Nielsen's fast nationals, with 34.3 million viewers. The 18-49 figure is down 4% from last year, while the total viewer number is off 6%.

The 88th annual Oscars telecast was hosted by Chris Rock, who addressed the lack of nominations for minority performers in a blistering opening monologue.

The telecast was hurt in part by the lack of widely enjoyed films claiming prizes. Spotlight, a well-reviewed but lightly viewed feature, won Best Picture, ahead of favorite The Revenant. Crowd-pleaser Star Wars: The Force Awakens was shut out.

The program's notoriously long length--this one went three hours and 21 minutes, not counting the pre-show--also puts a damper on ratings as the night wears on and, for many, sleep beckons.

ABC was pleased to report that the telecast grew year over year in viewers 18-34, with a 9.4 rating, ahead of 2015's 9.3.

Ratings drops for major broadcast events year over year are the norm, as a greater amount of programming choices face viewers, and more take in the program on digital platforms.

Last year's telecast, hosted by Neil Patrick Harris, was down 15% from the 2014 affair, at 36.6 million total viewers.

Michael Malone

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.