NEW YORK -- The 32.9 million viewers tuning into Sunday’s Academy Awards represented a drop-off of more than a million from last year and Oscar’s smallest audience since 2008.
The Nielsen company said Monday that viewership dipped notably from the 34.3 million who watched the ABC telecast in 2016.
In 2008, when Jon Stewart hosted, just 31.76 million viewers tuned in.
The ceremony, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, maintained a political edge as many winners, presenters and Kimmel himself took repeated digs at President Donald Trump.
An anti-Trump sentiment was hardly unexpected after the politically charged atmosphere of the Golden Globes, which aired in early January with a number of onstage voices, particularly Meryl Streep’s, taking to task the then-president-elect. After that, some Trump supporters called for a viewer boycott of the Oscarcast, which may have partly accounted for the audience’s fall-off from last year.
But audience erosion has been Oscar’s trend for three years straight. In both 2014 and 2013, the awards show reached more than 40 million viewers, whereas 37.3 million were watching in 2015. Ellen DeGeneres’ 2014 stint as host still holds the highest ratings for an Oscars broadcast in the 21st century, with 43.74 million viewers tuning in.
Not that Sunday’s show didn’t pack a big surprise, which was saved for the end. That was when presenter Faye Dunaway mistakenly declared “La La Land” as Oscar-winning best picture before the record was corrected to “Moonlight.”