Oscar: An Overnight Sensation : ABC Oscarcast Scores Its Best Ratings in 5 Years

The Academy Awards telecast on ABC Wednesday night scored its biggest ratings in five years, figures from A. C. Nielsen Co. showed Thursday.

The three-hour-plus broadcast had an average audience of 26.9 million homes in the United States--half of all those that were watching TV during that period.

By contrast, about 9.6 million homes were tuned to the movie “Stroker Ace” on CBS between 9 and 11 p.m., about 7 million watched “Nightingales” on NBC from 10 to 11 p.m.

The program’s raw rating of 29.8--each point is said by Nielsen to represent 1% of the nation’s TV households--was the best showing for an Oscar show since the 1984 telecast garnered a 30.5 rating, ABC said. Last year’s show earned a 29.4 rating.


In Los Angeles, Wednesday’s Academy Awards fared better than the national average. It was seen in about 1.9 million homes--56% of all households that had the TV on.

ABC’s coverage of the ceremonies attracted 65% of the available viewers in New York, 62% in Chicago and Minneapolis, 59% in Philadelphia and 56% in San Francisco.

The broadcast very likely will emerge as the most-watched program of the week. Its ratings were the highest of the week thus far, beating even “Roseanne” on Tuesday night, which has finished first in the weekly standings for the last three weeks in a row.