by BLOOMBERG / pic by AFP
ABOUT 15.4 million people watched a drama-filled Oscars, an increase from last year and a boost to an awards show whose audience has been in steep decline.
The preliminary ratings were released by Walt Disney Co.’s ABC network, which broadcast the show, and may change Tuesday when final results come in. The numbers are a 56% improvement from a year ago, when a pared-down version of the event drew about 10 million viewers, according to the network.
Sunday night’s telecast will perhaps be best remembered for actor Will Smith smacking comedian Chris Rock on live television minutes before winning the best actor Oscar. The incident overshadowed a milestone in Hollywood history, the first time a movie released primarily online won best picture. “CODA,” which took home the top prize, was released on the streaming service Apple TV+.
The peak of 55.2 million viewers occurred in 1998, when the blockbuster “Titanic” was the big winner.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, which runs the awards, handed out eight trophies before the main event in an attempt to shorten the live ceremony. It still ran for more than three hours. Other attempts at broadening the audience included more presenters from the world of sports and music.