Oscars telecast scored 43 million viewers

Host Ellen DeGeneres speaks onstage during the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre on March 2, 2014, in Hollywood, Calif.
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

The Oscars were a hit.

An estimated 43 million people watched the 86th Academy Awards on Sunday, the most-watched audience for the show in a decade and the most popular entertainment event on television since the "Friends" finale in 2004.

The Nielsen company said Monday that Oscar viewership was up for the third straight year and is considered yet another example of how social media is helping to drive up the ratings for big television events. Last year's Oscars were seen by 40.4 million people.

Ellen DeGeneres was host of the Academy Awards for a second time, replacing last year's edgy Seth MacFarlane. She had previously hosted the prestigious ceremony in 2007.

Some of this year's winners included "12 Years a Slave" for best picture, "Dallas Buyers Club" star Matthew McConaughey for best actor and Cate Blanchett for best actress, for her turn in Woody Allen's "Blue Jasmine."

The Oscars are usually the second most-watched television program of the year in the United States, after the Super Bowl.

Check out our list of Oscars 2014 winners.