At the Oscars on Sunday night, Parasite broke new ground by becoming the first film not in English to win Best Picture. The win capped a strong night for the film, but that strength did not transfer to the ratings for the ceremony, which hit an all-time low according to Deadline.
This year, 23.6 million people tuned in to watch the Oscars live on Sunday night. The Oscars earned a 5.3 rating with adults ages 18-49. Both of those numbers were down significantly from last year’s ceremony, which earned an overall viewership number of 29.6 million and a 7.7 rating with adults ages 18-49.
Last year’s ceremony represented the first increase in the show’s ratings in five years. Given that uptick, this year’s ceremony worked to replicate last year’s success. Last year’s ceremony went without a host for the first time in years. This year’s show was also hostless, and, like last year’s, featured an opening round of jokes from funny comedians instead of one traditional host. This year, those comedians were Steve Martin and Chris Rock.
This is just the third year that the ratings have dipped below 30 million, and this year’s numbers represent a tremendous dip from the peak of this millennium when the 2004 ceremony earned 43.5 million viewers and featured a Best Picture win for The Lord of The Rings: The Return of the King.
Last year’s ceremony also featured musical performances from Queen and Adam Lambert, as well as Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s rendition of “Shallow,” which ranked No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 following last year’s ceremony. Sunday’s ceremony tried to pull off something similar, opening with a performance from Janelle Monae before diving into the actual awards ceremony and featuring other musical performances throughout the night. Those performances included songs from high-profile performers like Elton John, Billie Eilish, and Eminem.
Last year’s slate of nominees also featured a number of high-performing box office hits, per Variety, including Cooper’s A Star is Born along with Bohemian Rhapsody and, most notably, Black Panther. The combined gross of the Best Picture nominees at last year’s ceremony represented a 70 percent increase from the year prior, earning a combined $1.26 billion in North America alone. Because of the increased interest in the slate of films, the interest in the Oscars may have also temporarily risen.
This confluence of factors may have led to a temporary uptick in ratings, but this year’s ceremony failed to replicate last year’s success. Instead, this year’s ceremony continued the trend of decreased ratings for the ceremony, and also clocked in at 12 minutes longer than last year.