UPDATE NOON: ABC’s time zone-adjusted ratings for last night’s 83rd Academy Awards are in, confirming the drop from last year’s telecast. Some 37.6 million viewers tuned in to watch the show from 8:30-11:30 PM, down 9% from last year. In adults 18-49, the Oscars drew an 11.7 rating, down 12%  from last year. With hosts Anne Hathaway and James Franco, who are smack in the middle of the 18-34 demo, the ceremony was down even in that category from last year when 50something Alec Baldwin and 60something Steve Martin were the hosts – it slipped 5%. Here is historic data on the Oscars viewership over the past decade, along with the best picture winner that year:

2011 37.6 million The King’s Speech
2010 41.3 million The Hurt Locker
2009 36.3 million Slumdog Millionaire
2008 32.0 million No Country For Old Men
2007 40. 2 million The Departed
2006 38.9 million Crash
2005 42.1 million Million Dollar Baby
2004 43.5 million Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
2003 33.0 million Chicago
2002 41.8 million A Beautiful Mind
2001 42.9 million Gladiator

PREVIOUS 8AM: The 83rd Academy Awards did only a little better in the ratings than it did in reviews. From 8:30-11:30 PM, the show, which was universally panned by critics, drew a 24.6 household rating/37 share in the metered markets. That was down 7% from last year’s 26.5 rating, reversing a ratings upswing in the past 2 years after the awards show hit an all-time low in 2008. Still, last night’s ceremony did better than that 2008 telecast as well as the one in 2009. Probably helping things a bit was  the fact that most of the 10 best picture nominees, including the night’s big winner, The King’s Speech, were popular films that had crossed the $100 million mark.

We will know in a couple of hours for sure if the show scored with young viewers what the producers’ intention  was in tapping 20something James Franco and Anne Hathaway as hosts. (ABC has ordered time-adjusted fast nationals for the live broadcast.) In Nielsen’s 26 Local People Meter markers, the Oscars averaged a 14.5 rating among adults 18-49, down slightly from the 14.8 rating for last year’s ceremony hosted by 65-year-old Steve Martin and 52-year-old Alec Baldwin. The top markets for Oscar viewing were New York (33.9 rating), San Francisco (33.6), Chicago (33), Kansas City (32.7) and Boston (32 rating). The only originals to air against the Oscar telecast were CBS’ The Amazing Race (2.1/5 in 18-49 in the fast nationals, down 16% from last week) and CSI: Miami (2.0//5, down 9%). Both logged their lowest-rated first-run episodes ever.

Here are the metered markets household Oscar ratings for the past 5 years.

2011 24.6/37

2010 26.5/40

2009 23.3/35

2008 21.9/33

2007 27.7/42