Coming into the 2018 Oscars, the Academy and the ABC Network had every reason to believe that this year would be a huge success. After the Best Picture fiasco from 2017, the buzz around the 2018 ceremony was greater than it had been in previous years. Also, on top of last year’s controversy, there was a returning host, Jimmy Kimmel, that’s generally popular, and a list of nominated films that were arguably the strongest in years. So, why did the 2018 Oscars log the worst ratings of any Academy Awards in history?
Last night’s 3+ hour telecast scored an 18.9 Live + Same Day rating in early estimates. While that would be a great rating for many shows on network TV, for the Oscars, this was an all-time low. And not by a little bit, either. The 18.9 rating is down a whopping 16% from last year’s Oscars, which had a 22.4 rating. Wow.
Putting this in perspective, the previous record-holder for lowest Oscars telecast was the 2008 ceremony, hosted by Jon Stewart. That year saw “No Country for Old Men” take home the Best Picture prize. The 2008 Oscars scored a 21.9 rating. So, not only is the 18.9 a low score, but it’s abysmal.
Ratings for the Oscars, and awards shows in general, have been trending down in recent years, but a decline like this is startling. Last year’s 22.4 rating was already a nine-year low. Falling this rapidly should be cause for alarm, but it might not be all doom and gloom for the Academy just yet.
The Nielsen data, which is where we get the rating, pulls from metered households that watch the telecast over television. What it doesn’t measure is the number of individuals that watch the Oscars over digital means and on mobile devices. So, ABC’s own website offering the telecast live if you login, as well as companies like YouTube TV offering the telecast via their paid-streaming service, there’s no way of knowing truly how many eyeballs actually watched the Oscars.
Overall, the ratings are down, and big time. That’s reason enough to be concerned. However, this is probably a symptom of a larger issue, where most people just aren’t watching TV in the same ways anymore.
Hopefully, ABC will release more stats in the coming days, giving us a better idea of just how many people watched Jimmy Kimmel give away a jet ski.