Sunday night’s Academy Awards show is officially a hit, scoring 43 million viewers, according to the early ratings released on Monday afternoon. That makes it the biggest audience for the Oscars in 10 years, and also the most-watched entertainment telecast in a decade. (Since the “Friends” finale in May 2004 to be exact, ABC boasted.)
The viewership for the Ellen DeGeneres-hosted ceremony was up from last year, when the Seth MacFarlane debacle clocked 40 million people. In 2012, 39.3 million viewers watched when Billy Crystal hosted; the year before that, 38 million tuned in to watch the James Franco/Anne Hathaway trainwreck in 2011.
Also, ABC says that Oscars activity on Twitter was up 75 percent from last year, with Social Guide estimating nearly 3 million people sent a total of 11.2 million tweets.
So, speaking of Twitter: Is social media the reason that award shows have been spiking in the ratings? It certainly makes sense. The Golden Globes have steadily gained viewers the last few years; January’s show had nearly 21 million people tune in, also the highest in a decade. Same with the Emmy Awards, which hit nearly a 10-year high in 2013 with about 18 million. The evidence is less clear with the Grammys, which has remained steady with around 28 million people but saw an (unusual) spike in 2012 after the death of Whitney Houston the night before the show.
Of course, while weird things referenced on Twitter would motivate someone to turn on the TV, there are also other factors (i.e. people staying inside because of the weather) that could cause a rise in viewership; plus, the show was more family-friendly this year. Either way, social stats are becoming increasingly vital to the networks that produce the shows.
Whatever they reasons, they are still celebrating higher ratings in the meantime; and the people who wanted a controversy-free host versus an offensive one can certainly claim victory.
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