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Oscars viewership increases for the 2nd year in a row

With help from the Na'vi, Maverick, and a Michelle Yeoh from every universe, the Academy has staved off another ratings decline for the Oscars. 

Sunday's Academy Awards drew an average of 18.7 million viewers, an increase of about 12 percent from the previous year, according to Nielsen. This was the biggest audience for the Oscars since 2020. It also marks the second year in a row that viewership for the Academy Awards increased. About 16.6 million people tuned in to the 2022 Oscars, which was up from 2021's all-time low of 10.4 million. 

Sunday's Oscars may have benefited from having several major box office hits in contention, as 2022's two biggest movies, Top Gun: Maverick and Avatar: The Way of Water, were both nominated for Best Picture. They each won an Oscar, but the night was mainly dominated by Everything Everywhere All at Once, which won seven awards, including Best Picture. Everything Everywhere was also a surprise hit in 2022, grossing over $100 million worldwide.

It's also possible there may have been an increased interest in the Oscars due to the chaos of last year's ceremony, during which Will Smith slapped Chris Rock on stage. Though host Jimmy Kimmel made plenty of jokes about that incident, there wasn't any similar drama on Sunday evening. The solid viewership was also despite the fact that The Last of Us aired its season finale on HBO during the ceremony, drawing 8.2 million viewers.

The viewership for Sunday's Oscars was still the third lowest in the telecast's history and nowhere near the audience of more than 40 million who tuned in for the 2014 Oscars, for example. But after years of declines, the fact that the ratings have been ticking up is still a reassuring sign for the Academy, perhaps suggesting the future of Hollywood's biggest night isn't as bleak as it once seemed.