And the ratings Oscar does not go to ABC

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Updated: Despite controversies and crowd-pleasing host, 88th Academy Awards score lowest ratings in 8 years

The 88th Annual Academy Awards on ABC Sunday night drew an audience of 34.3 million viewers, making it the lowest-rated Oscars telecast in eight years. The ratings are based on Nielsen’s Live + Same Day fast national ratings.

Despite weeks of high-profile controversy surrounding the lack of diversity among the award’s nominees, and a widely praised monologue from crowd-favorite Chris Rock as host, the show failed to overcome its somewhat obscure lineup of Best Picture nominees to attract an audience. As always, box office interest in the nominated films tends to correlate with audience interest — hence the record 55.25 million viewers who tuned in to see "Titanic" be named Best Picture in 1998. The prior low was in 2008, when 32.01 million viewers clocked in for "No Country for Old Men’s" Best Picture victory.

This year’s Best Picture winner, "Spotlight," earned just $54.3 million in the U.S box office, though expected winner "The Revenant" pulled in $381.6 million in the U.S.

The telecast drew a 10.4 rating in adults 18 to 49, down 4% from last year’s show. Overall, last year’s Oscars averaged 37.26 million viewers in total, marking an 8% drop this year. According to Nielsen Social, 1.8 million people in the country sent one or more of the 7.2 million tweets about the "Oscars," growing by 22% over last year’s telecast (5.9 million tweets).

The competing three broadcast networks, which countered with an evening of all-repeat programming (including theatricals "Last Vegas" on CBS and "Ted" on NBC), generated slim-to-no interest. 

Here are the fast affiliate results by network (which included 7-8:30 p.m. ABC special "Live From the Red Carpet"):

Total Viewers:
ABC: 28.09 million, CBS: 4.91, NBC: 3.31, Fox: 1.69
Adults 18-49:
ABC: 8.3 rating/24 share, CBS, NBC and Fox: 0.7/ 2 each

For comparative purposes, the following is a 10-year viewing track of "Academy Awards" (including the Best Picture winner for each of those years):

2015: 37.26 million: "Birdman"
2014: 43.74 million: "12 Years a Slave"
2013: 40.38 million: "Argo"
2012: 39.46 million: "The Artist"
2011: 37.72 million: "The King’s Speech"
2010: 41.70 million: "The Hurt Locker"
2009: 36.31 million: "Slumdog Millionaire"
2008: 32.01 million: "No Country for Old Men"
2007: 40.17 million: "The Departed"
2006: 38.94 million: "Crash"

And what follows are the 10 most-watched Academy Award telecasts historically:

1998: 55.25 million: "Titanic&rdquo
1983: 53.23 million: "Gandhi&rdquo
1980: 48.98 million: "Kramer vs. Kramer"
1978: 48.50 million: "Annie Hall&rdquo
1995: 48.28 million: "Schindler’s List&rdquo
1975: 48.13 million: "The Sting"
1976: 46.75 million: "The Godfather, Part II"
2000: 46.33 million: "American Beauty"
1979: 46.30 million: "The Deer Hunter"
1982: 46.24 million: "Ordinary People"


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