- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 14, 2023

The Academy Awards broadcast drew in more viewers Sunday than in any of the past three shows, nabbing its biggest post-pandemic audience.

The Oscars show attracted 18.7 million viewers, a 12% increase over last year. While that number is still very low historically, the gains show that interest in the Academy Awards isn’t entirely gone.

The 2021 Oscar ceremony, the first since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, was decimated in the ratings, getting 10.5 million views. For comparison, the 2020 Oscar ceremony, which occurred just before the lockdowns, drew in over 23 million viewers.

The dip coincides with historic-low ratings for not only televised awards shows but live television overall. The shuttering of movie theaters during the pandemic meant few viewers had seen many of the nominated films and thus were not interested.

Other cited reasons for declining ratings include criticism by film fans of last year’s decision to cut lower-profile categories from the broadcast and conservative complaints about the outspoken liberal politics of the broadcasts.

This year’s broadcast had few controversies, especially compared to the past few years, and likely attracted more viewers by nominating two of the highest-grossing movies of all time — “Top Gun: Maverick” and “Avatar: The Way of Water” — in the coveted Best Picture category.

The viewership gains are especially impressive considering the show was competing for viewers with the season finale of HBO’s new hit series “The Last of Us,” which attracted an impressive 8.2 million viewers.

• Vaughn Cockayne can be reached at vcockayne@washingtontimes.com.

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