The Academy Awards registered Sunday what may be an all-time television ratings low for a politically charged broadcast that featured a slate of nominated movies few viewers had ever seen.
Initial Nielsen figures gave the 90th annual Academy Awards an 18.9 percent live same-day household rating, which would be the lowest in Oscars history, below the 20.9 percent rating for the 2008 telecast, according to Deadline Hollywood.
The early ratings report for this year’s telecast on ABC also represents a drop of 16 percent from the 2017 awards show, which registered a 22.5 percent household rating.
As expected, the four-hour awards show included political jabs at President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, as well as cheers for immigrants and young illegal immigrants known as Dreamers.
“To all the dreamers out there, we stand with you,” said actor Kumail Nanjiani, an awards presenter.
Some stars wore orange pins from Everytown for Gun Safety “to bring awareness to gun violence prevention,” while others wore black-and-white #TimesUp pins, referring to the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment.
Host Jimmy Kimmel called the golden Oscar statue “the most beloved and respected man in Hollywood.”
“And there’s a very good reason why: Just look at him. Keeps his hands where you can see them, never says a rude word, and most importantly, no penis at all,” Mr. Kimmel quipped. “He is a literal statue of limitations.”
The night’s big winner, “The Shape of Water,” wasn’t a blockbuster, but it did bring in a respectable $57 million at the box office for the best gross by a Best Picture recipient in five years.
Still, only two of the nine Best Picture nominees — “Dunkirk” and “Get Out” — grossed over $100 million, and the combined box-office take of the films was the lowest in six years, according to Variety.
“As it stands, this is the lowest-grossing crop of best picture contenders since 2011, a fact that should be sending shivers up the spine of ABC executives as they brace for the March 4 telecast,” said Variety’s Brett Lang in a Feb. 20 post.