(Reuters) – The U.S. television audience for the first hostless Academy Awards broadcast in 30 years was roughly 12 percent bigger than last year’s record-low crowd of viewers, Walt Disney Co’s ABC said on Monday.
FILE PHOTO: An Oscars sign tops the fan bleachers on the red carpet as preparations continue for the 91st Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S., February 21, 2019. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
The telecast of the Oscars on Sunday attracted an average audience of 29.6 million total viewers, ABC said in a statement. In 2018, the live Oscars show averaged 26.5 million total viewers, a record low and down from 32.9 million in 2017.
Sunday’s ceremony opened with a performance by British rock band Queen, featuring “American Idol” star Adam Lambert as lead vocalist, that brought the audience to its feet. The full show ran about 40 minutes shorter than the 2018 program hosted by Jimmy Kimmel and eschewed its typical opening monologue for short celebrity cameos.
Awards shows remain one of the few must-see live events and their ratings are closely watched by advertisers as streaming shows, movies and other content compete for watchers’ attention. Though dwarfed by the Super Bowl, the Oscars are often one of America’s most watched non-sporting events.
The Nielsen data for the Oscars does not include viewing of the Oscars on digital and mobile platforms. ABC owns U.S. broadcast rights for the Oscars through 2028.
Comedian Kevin Hart withdrew from the hosting job in December after past homophobic tweets resurfaced. It was only the second time the show went without a host in its 91-year history.
This year’s ceremony relied heavily on the two music-themed contenders in the best picture race, “A Star Is Born” and “Bohemian Rhapsody,” to help set the tone.
The 2019 Oscars were a win for films telling stories from a range of racial and cultural perspectives, marking a major shift three years after the industry’s top awards show was slammed for overlooking work by nonwhite artists.
Road trip movie “Green Book” triumphed over “Roma” to win the best picture Oscar.
The audience for this year’s Super Bowl, by far the most watched American event of the year, drew 98.2 million viewers on CBS Corp’s television network, down about 5 percent from last year’s game and its smallest audience since 2009.
But the U.S. audience for this year’s Grammy Awards on CBS rose slightly to 19.9 million. CBS said many millions more watched part of the highest honors in the U.S. music industry or interacted on social media.
Writing by Meredith Mazzilli; Editing by Nick Zieminski