February 28, 2017

The Oscars Ratings by Quarter Hour

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Written by: Mitch Metcalf
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The Oscars on Sunday 2.26.2017 averaged 32.9 million live+same day, according to Nielsen, close to the 34.4 million last year but down significantly from 37.3 million in 2015 and 43.6 million in 2014.  Click here for a complete track for the past decade of Oscar telecasts.

Looking at the quarter hour ratings for the telecast, 2017 had the same basic pattern as usual, building from 8:30 to 10:00 pm ET and then drifting down steadily through the conclusion.  10:00 pm ET is important as that is about the time each year the Best Supporting Actress award hits and roughly an hour passes without any marque awards most years.  This year, Best Supporting Actress was followed by eight awards with very limited audience appeal (Foreign Language Film, Animated Short Film, Animated Feature Film, Production Design, Visual Effects, Film Editing, Live Action Short Film and Documentary Short Subject) before returning to Cinematography, Score, Song, the writing awards and of course the Big Four: Directing, Actor, Actress and Best Picture.  But by then, the show is battling sleep and declining television usage levels in the 75% of the country in the Eastern and Central Time Zones after 11:00 pm ET and especially 11:30 pm ET.

2014 hosted by Ellen DeGeneres remains the recent gold standard for The Oscars. That show was not immune to the challenge of the show’s rundown, but it started and ended at levels about five million viewers above the average for the past decade.  In contrast, 2017 followed a track very similar to 2016, consistently about 5 million viewers below the past decade average in each segment.

Oscars QH 2017


About the Author

Mitch Metcalf
MITCH METCALF has been tracking every US film release of over 500 screens (over 2300 movies and counting) since the storied weekend of May 20, 1994, when Maverick and Beverly Hills Cop 3 inspired countless aficionados to devote their lives to the art of cinema. Prior to that, he studied Politics and Economics at Princeton in order to prepare for his dream of working in television. He has been Head of West Coast Research at ABC, then moved to NBC in 2000 and became Head of Scheduling for 11 years.