Last night, the Oscars went out of the way to have fun. From a cool Justin Timberlake performance, random fans getting to meet celebrities and candy raining from the ceiling, most of the night that didn't involve that major flub proved to be pretty entertaining. Despite this, the numbers were down again for the 2017 broadcast of the popular awards show. Early reports indicate this might be the least-watched Oscars event in 9 years, but that may be more a symptom of a trend than the fault of this particular broadcast.
Per early numbers, the Oscars brought in a 22.4 ratings share, which means the show did worse than last year. As noted by TV By The Numbers when last year's ratings share was announced, the broadcast was running at a 22.5 ratings share. As you can see, the numbers are almost even with what was being reported at this time last year, and last year's broadcast ended up bringing in over 34 million total viewers. That seems like a really large number. It is, in fact, a big number. Regardless, it's not a big number when compared to older broadcasts of the Oscars.
A 22.4 ratings share would be the lowest numbers since 2008 and a far cry from the heyday of Oscar viewing, when in 1998 a whopping 55.25 million total viewers tuned in. (That was the year Titanic took home the best picture win, for the record.) Most years the Oscars don't do numbers nearly that high, but a 22.4 is a fairly low rating, regardless. We'll let you know what that translates into in terms of total viewers, but as the ratings share was on par with last year, I'd say it's fairly safe to anticipate total viewership will be similar, as well. We'll let you know either way.
Fewer people are watching TV live these days, but big event programming has somewhat avoided the trend where people catch up on their favorite TV shows on different times than they initially air. That's because there's still a water cooler mentality related to big event shows, including awards shows like the Oscars. While event programming may not be affected by ratings changes as often as other shows, clearly the numbers have been down in recent years for the Oscars. We'll have to wait and see if this is a trend the major networks are eventually able to reverse or if this will simply become more and more common.
For now, we still have nearly a whole year before the next big Oscars broadcast. In the meantime, there's plenty of other TV coming your way. You can take a look at what is hitting the schedule with our TV premiere guide.