Roughly 15.36 million people watched Sunday’s live Academy Awards broadcast on Walt Disney Co’s DIS.N ABC network, a major jump from last year but the second-lowest audience ever, according to preliminary ratings data.
The figure for the film industry’s highest awards rose 56% from last year’s record-low ratings, ABC said on Monday. Early estimates for the 2021 show, which was scaled down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, came in at 9.85 million viewers.
An updated tally that will include viewership via live stream and at out-of-home locations such as bars and restaurants will be released on Tuesday.
TV viewership of many awards ceremonies has dropped in recent years. Oscars producers tried a new format this year with three hosts and less time allotted to awards for sound mixing and other film craft categories.
But the most talked-about moment of the night occurred when Will Smith slapped presenter Chris Rock’s face on stage shortly before Smith was named best actor.
The audio from the show, broadcast on a time-delay of a few seconds in the United States, appeared to have been cut from the live transmission for many viewers because of the language. But it was audible in some broadcasts, for example in Japan and Australia.
—Reporting by Sheila Dang in Dallas and Lisa Richwine in Los Angeles; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Sandra Maler