The last few years of The Academy Awards telecasts have been plagued by sagging ratings, and with last year's Oscars host Jimmy Kimmel returning for the 90th Oscars, unfortunately, the trend didn't reverse. The overnight ratings reveal that the awards telecast slipped 19% from last year, to an all-time low of 26.5 million viewers. That figure is roughly 5 million viewers lower than the previous record for the least-watched Oscars in history, the 2008 telecast which brought in 31.8 million viewers.
The overnight rating of 18.9 was down a modest 16% from the 22.8 rating from last year, with the 2017 telecast also posting a 9.1 rating in the 18-49 demographic. ABC didn't immediately release an 18-49 rating for this year's telecast, but this decline falls in line with the drop in big events in general this year. All of the major TV events of the year thus far, the Golden Globe Awards, the Super Bowl and the Grammy Awards, were all down significantly from 2017. One reason for the sharp decline in the Oscar ratings could be the lengthy runtime, which, even though, at three hours and 50 minutes, may have only been a minute longer than last year's telecast, it was the longest in over a decade, since 2007, and the sixth longest overall.
It's worth noting that all of the aforementioned numbers only reflect the viewing data within the normal 8 PM ET (5 PM PT) to 11 PM ET (8 PM PT) block for the Oscars, and not the additional 50 minutes it ran over for. While the awards telecast did address hot-button issues like sexual misconduct, wage equality and much more, overall, the show was less politically-charged than other awards shows like the Golden Globes, where a vast majority of attendees wore black in solidarity of the Times Up movement.
What's interesting is that Oscar ratings tend to suffer the most when the Best Picture nominees don't feature any mainstream hit movies, and that certainly wasn't the case this year. Among the nine Best Picture nominees, two earned over $150 million domestic, Dunkirk ($188 million) and Get Out ($176 million). Best Picture winner The Shape of Water has taken in $57.4 million since its release in early December, which may get a boost after its Best Picture win, but it is already the highest-grossing Best Picture winner since Argo ($136 million).
The 90th Oscars marks the fourth year in a row that the telecast has slid from the previous year. The 2017 telecast pulled in 32.9 million viewers, while 2016 attracted 34.4 million, 2015 posted 37.3 million viewers and 2014 pulled in 43.7 million viewers. Barring some sort of an Oscar miracle, 2014 may in fact be the last year the Oscars draws in more than 40 million viewers, as all awards shows continue their downward trends. You can head on over to The Hollywood Reporter for their full report on the Oscar ratings from last night's telecast.