Oscars Viewership Hits An All-Time Low With 23.6 Million After 2020 Broadcast

Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

The 2020 Oscars ceremony was watched by the smallest audience in the awards show’s history.

Nielsen reported that only 23.6 million people tuned in for the three-and-a-half hour ceremony – that’s down 6 million from last year’s first-ever hostless telecast (29.6 million viewers) – and scored a 5.3 rating among adults 18-49 in the fast national ratings, a 31% decline from 2019.

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As a comparison, last year’s Oscars delivered a 7.7 rating in adults 18-49 and 29.6 million viewers. The 2019 viewership number, while up 12% from the 2018 telecast, represented the second-smallest audience ever for the Academy Awards broadcast at the time. Also, the 2018 show delivered the previous smallest viewership tally with 26.5 million viewers.

Reports of the new lows in both metrics may not be a surprise to some, as award show numbers, in general, have been in decline over the past couple of years. For example, the 2020 Golden Globes telecast dipped 2% on 2019 to eight-year viewership low, whereas the 2019 Emmys had the lowest-rated and least-watched in the show’s history, a trend that is coming up frequently when looking at award show ratings lately.

Despite the ratings, the Oscars 2020 telecast was the most-watched awards show of the season yet. It beat the Grammys viewership by just under 5 million and the Golden Globes by 5.3 million.

2020: 23.6 million (Best Picture winner: Parasite)
2019: 29.6 million (Green Book)
2018: 26.5 million (The Shape of Water)
2017: 32.9 million (Moonlight)
2016: 34.4 million (Spotlight)
2015: 37.2 million (Birdman)
2014: 43.7 million (12 Years a Slave)
2013: 40.3 million (Argo)
2012: 39.3 million (The Artist)
2011: 37.9 million (The King’s Speech)
2010: 41.7 million (The Hurt Locker)
2009: 36.3 million (Slumdog Millionaire)
2008: 32.0 million (No Country for Old Men)
2007: 40.1 million (The Departed)
2006: 38.9 million (Crash)
2005: 42.1 million (Million Dollar Baby)
2004: 43.5 million (The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King)
2003: 33.0 million (Chicago)
2002: 41.7 million (A Beautiful Mind)
2001: 42.9 million (Gladiator)
2000: 46.3 million (American Beauty)
1999: 45.6 million (Shakespeare in Love)
1998: 55.2 million (Titanic)

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