The Academy Awards is annually one of the most-watched television programs of the year, and last night's celebration lived up to that expectation. The 86th annual Oscars, which aired on ABC, drew an average audience of 43 million viewers during its airing and delivered an impressive 12.9 rating in the Adults 18-49 demographic. According to Coming Soon, this makes the show the "most-watched entertainment telecast" in a decade, coming up just short of the Friends finale that was aired on May 6, 2004.

In comparison to other award shows that have aired so far in 2014... well, there is no real comparison. The Golden Globes audience was made up of less than half of the Oscars, drawing in only 20.9 million people, while the Grammys fared even worse, getting only 14.5 million to pay attention.

Adding another layer to this story is the fact that those numbers may not be complete. Yes, 43 million watched the telecast, but does that account for those who were watching online? This was the first year ever that there was an opportunity for movie fans to stream the Oscars online, as the ABC Live site and the Watch ABC app both delivered the show to computers and mobile phones on a slight delay (it wasn't a perfect system, as the server possibly wasn't fully prepared for the size of the audience, but it worked pretty well). One can presume that a good number of people watched it through these means, so how did it effect the numbers?

In terms of analyzing why this year's show was so successful, one can't deny the popularity of host Ellen DeGeneres, but there were also a number of big box office hits up for big prizes at the ceremony. Gravity, which took home Best Director and great number of technical awards, was one of the biggest hits of 2013, and the billion-dollar earning Frozen took home Best Animated Feature and Best Song. There were plenty of reasons for people to pay attention to this year's show, and they actually did. And let's not count out the terrific live musical performances as well.

So what will next year bring? There are an incredible number of potentially great films on the horizon, from Paul Thomas Anderson's Inherent Vice to Christopher Nolan's Interstellar to David Fincher's Gone Girl, so perhaps the Oscars of 2015 will somehow manage to be even bigger.

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