Despite lukewarm critical reception (did you read Deadline’s own live-snarking?), the ratings for the Academy Awards has ABC crowing. The telecast drew an average audience of 41.3 million viewers, which made the Oscars TV’s most watched entertainment broadcast since 2005, according to Nielsen estimates. The awards show apparently wasn’t hurt by the game of chicken that Disney played with Cablevision, one that forced millions of New Yorkers to miss the starting 17 minutes and more of the telecast. (Not to worry: they missed bupkis.) This marks the 2nd year in a row that the Oscars saw a ratings surge. The show was 14% up over the 2009 Oscars, which drew 35.3 million viewers when Slumdog Millionaire won Best Picture. That show ranked 13% above the 32 million viewers who watched No Country For Old Men win in 2008 — the lowest rated since Nielsen started measuring the broadcast. Look, the only place this year’s telecast could go was up. Especially with a global blockbuster like Avatar competing against Hurt Locker down to the wire for Best Picture.
The 2010 Oscar ratings continues an overall surge in awards show eyeballs: the Grammy Awards were up 35%, the Golden Globes were up 14.3%, and the People’s Choice Awards were up 15%.
But Tom Sherak should wait to pat himself on the back. The production and direction of last night’s Academy Awards were heavily criticized if not downright ridiculed. For instance, the emphasis by executive producers Adam Shankman and Bill Mechanic on packing in young presenters as a ploy to lower the average age of the audience demographics to what advertisers most prize didn’t pay off. The 18-34 demo was down 3%, while 34-49 was up 9%. Translation: Taylor Lautner, Zac Efron, Miley Cyrus, and Kristen Stewart in don’t-blink-or-you-miss-them doses weren’t enough. (The Grammys are the exception, but there artists like Beyonce, Lady Gaga and the Black Eyed Peas take the stage and perform.) Taylor Lautner and Kristen Stewart instead got stuck in an awkward tribute to the horror genre, which Twilight isn’t. That wasn’t the most serious gaffe. After Lautner mentioned that the last horror film to be recognized by the Oscars was 1973’s The Exorcist, the montage that followed featured a memorable shot of Anthony Hopkins in a Hannibal Lecter mask. Because 1991’s Silence of the Lambs, of course, won Best Picture.