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2024 Oscars ratings reveal biggest viewership in 4 years

The decision to move the 96th Academy Awards up an hour is looking to have been a sound one, with the number of people watching growing for a third consecutive year.

The telecast of the awards ceremony began at 7 p.m. Eastern, with the earlier time and multiple nominations for box-office hits "Barbie" and Oppenheimer" likely factors in the number of those watching.

Sunday's Oscars were the most-watched network awards show since February 2020, Nielsen said. 

How many people watched the 2024 Oscars?

Sunday's telecast had 19.5 million people watching, a four-year high, and up from 18.8 million a year ago, according to Nielsen.

Viewership peaked in the final half hour, which had Ryan Gosling performing "I'm Just Ken" from the film "Barbie," and Cillian Murphy winning best actor for "Oppenheimer," which also took best director for Christopher Nolan, and best picture in a unusual delivery by presenter Al Pacino.

The broadcast in reality began a little less than an hour early, as Gaza protests outside slowed down attendee entrances at the theatre, and host Jimmy Kimmel kicking the show off about six minutes late. 

The show also marks another success story for live TV.

Last month, 16.9 million watched the Grammy Awards, up 34% from 2023, and more people watched the Kansas City Chiefs win their second straight Super Bowl than have watched the big game in any previous year, with Taylor Swift and Usher bringing their fans to help drive record ratings for the 2024 NFL championship. 

How do Oscars ratings for 2024 compare to past years?

For years, the Academy Awards was frequently the second most-watched television program of the year behind the Super Bowl. Until 2018, the Oscar telecast had never fallen under 30 million viewers, according to Nielsen records. The high-water mark was the 55 million people who watched "Titanic" clean up in 1998.

Since the 43.7 million who watched in 2014, viewership of the Academy Awards has declined steadily to 26.5 million in 2018, then went back up to 29.6 million in 2019, and 23.6 million in 2020. The bottom fell out with the pandemic-diminished show in 2021, seen by a mere 9.85 million. Viewership rebounded in 2022 — the year of "the Slap" — with 16.6 million.

The movies and their makers aren't entirely to blame. The generational shift to streaming and other video forms has gutted broadcast television viewership, and few live events other than the Super Bowl draw the sort of audiences they once did.

—The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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