Rich Polk for Variety
Viewership surged on Sunday when an average of 18.7 million viewers watched “Everything Everywhere All at Once” take home Best Picture honors and top ABC’s 95th Academy Awards with seven wins. That’s according to Nielsen’s first time zone-adjusted ratings, which include away viewing — but keep in mind that number could change when the final Nationals take place.
The Oscars, which replaced returning host Jimmy Kimmel for the first time since 2018, rose 12% from last year’s ratings. And according to these quick Nielsen time-zone-adjusted national numbers, it beat the previous year’s 3.8 rating by 5% among key adults 18-49, earning a 4.0 in the demo.
This year’s telecast faced stiff competition from HBO’s season finale of smash hit ‘The Last of Us’ – whose star, Pedro Pascal, was ironically a presenter on the kudocast. But it’s also likely benefited from greater interest in this year’s Oscar competition given the presence of popular movies like “Everything Everywhere,” “Avatar” and “Top Gun Maverick” in the running — not to mention the fact that audiences might have been curious how Kimmel and telecast would approach last year’s slap in the face by Will Smith against presenter Chris Rock.
Looking at similar preliminary national rapid data from last year, the 2022 ceremony drew 15.36 million viewers and a 3.2 rating among adults 18-49.
The 2023 Oscars, which aired live from 8 p.m. to around 11:39 p.m. ET, was also the first for the production team of Glenn Weiss and Ricky Kirshner – live TV veterans who filled that role. after several years of film producers overseeing the event.
Final “live + same day” Nielsen data for the 95th Academy Awards will be available on Tuesday. Early Nielsen affiliate fast numbers for Sunday’s Oscars reported by some media outlets Monday are not time-zone adjusted and do not take into account viewing of the awards ceremony on the West Coast.
ABC executives were also bracing for unusual numbers, as Sunday marked the start of daylight saving time, and viewership numbers may have been affected by the time change.
Oscars ratings have been significantly lower in recent years, hitting a 2021 all-time high of 10.5 million viewers and a 2.2 rating among core adults 18-49.
The 2022 telecast, which featured a remote performance by Beyoncé as well as that shocking altercation between Rock and Smith, drew 16.6 million viewers according to Nielsen Live+ data on the same day – that’s a jump of 58% year over year and an average score of 3.8 (73% increase from 2021) in the key demographic of adults 18-49. After additional time-shifted viewing in the days that followed, the broadcast drew 17.6 million viewers, making it the most-watched non-sports program of the past year.
But despite the good growth, the show only managed to land the second-worst ratings and ratings performance in Oscar history.
Last year’s show was billed as “the most social Oscars telecast ever,” according to ABC and the Academy, with 22.7 million total social interactions and a 139% increase over to last year’s broadcast (9.5 million). The broadcast garnered 16 million video views on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.
The record for a TV show Oscar remains the historic 1998 entry, where an average of 55.3 million viewers watched “Titanic” win best picture. As recently as 2014, the Oscars still drew 43.6 million viewers (when “12 Years a Slave” won). The last time the Oscars drew more than 30 million viewers was in 2017 (33 million, when “Moonlight” won) and the last time it crossed the 20 million mark was in 2017. 2020 pre-pandemic show (23.6 million, the year “Parasite” was victorious).