LOS ANGELES — Whether it’s the long-running drama “Slap” or the popularity of blockbusters in the Best Picture race, this year’s Oscars drew a bigger audience again.

About 18.7 million people watched the 95th Academy Awards broadcast Sunday night on ABC, according to Fast National Live+Same Day preliminary data released Monday by ABC. This is 12% more than last year, but still low compared to most years.

The night’s main counter, the season finale of “The Last of Us” drew 8.2 million viewers on HBO and HBO Max. The show began at 9:00 PM EDT, an hour after the Academy Awards began.

A frequent criticism of the Oscars is that the show honors films that are not widely popular. This year, however, was markedly different, with two billion-dollar blockbuster sequels: Top Gun Maverick and Avatar: The Last Airbender both nominated for Best Picture. Angela Bassett was nominated for a Marvel movie for the first time. Even A24’s winning film Everything Everywhere at Once grossed over $100 million at the global box office and was in theaters for months.

Over the years, the Academy Awards have often been the second most-watched telecast of the year behind the Super Bowl. According to Nielsen records, until 2018, the telecast of the Oscars never fell below 30 million viewers. The highest mark was 55 million people who watched the sinking of the Titanic in 1998.

From 43.7 million viewers in 2014, the audience steadily declined to 26.5 million in 2018, then rebounded to 29.6 million in 2019 and 23.6 million in 2020. The bottom fell out with the pandemic-reduced show in 2021, which was watched by 9.85 million. It rose to 16.6 million last year, the show’s second-lowest rating ever.

Jimmy Kimmel, who presided over the ceremony in 2017 and 2018, returned as the show’s host, parachuting onto the Dolby Theater stage. The show also featured pop stars like Rihanna and Lady Gaga.

In the age of streaming, television viewership has grown, and the awards shows have shown it. The show boasted 27.4 million total social interactions across Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube and was the #1 trending topic globally on Twitter during its run.

As of Monday afternoon, Ke Hui Quan’s keynote speech had more than 1.3 million views on YouTube, while Brendan Fraser’s had 2.6 million.

ABC’s live broadcast of American Sign Language also had 1.8 million views.

“What we wanted to do was go out and do a show that people would really enjoy and that people would talk about,” Oscar producer Glenn Weiss told The Hollywood Reporter hours after the show. “We believe that we have succeeded. I really hope that (Monday) will bring good news in the rankings, but in any case, I think it was a successful evening.”


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