Oscars get ratings bump but still draw 2nd smallest audience ever

(Image credit: ABC via Getty Images)

The 2022 Oscars avoided sinking to another new viewership low but still drew the ceremony's second smallest audience to date.

About 15.36 million people tuned into the 2022 Academy Awards on Sunday, a 56 percent increase from the year before, according to Variety. The 2021 Oscars drew about 10 million viewers, an all-time low.

This was the first time the ratings for the Oscars have increased since 2019. But Sunday's telecast drew the second smallest Oscars audience ever, Deadline notes. The 2020 Oscars drew 23.6 million viewers, while nearly 30 million viewers watched the 2019 show.

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The 2022 show saw Apple's CODA win Best Picture, becoming the first streaming film to take the top prize. But by far the most talked-about moment came when Will Smith shockingly smacked Chris Rock over a joke about Smith's wife. The moment made for a bizarre final hour as the ceremony continued as usual until Smith won Best Actor and received a standing ovation. It was unclear to what degree the incident may have had an effect on the ratings.

Producers also implemented a number of controversial changes to the ceremony in an attempt to boost ratings, including giving out eight awards before the broadcast and then editing the speeches into the show. The aim was for this to reduce the Oscars' runtime to three hours, but the broadcast still ran nearly 40 minutes over and was actually longer than in 2021.

The Academy also brought back a host for the Oscars for the first time since 2018, and it made an effort to appeal to a wider audience, including by having Twitter users vote on their favorite film of the year. These efforts were widely derided by critics — but the ratings uptick leaves open the possibility the changes could be here to stay.

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