With viewership up 12% from last year, Oscars win the ratings week

A man in a tuxedo gestures to a crowd of people in formal wear on the stage behind him.
“Everything Everywhere All at Once” wins best picture at the 95th Academy Awards at Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre on March 12, 2023.
(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

Viewership for the Oscars rebounded from the second-lowest on record to the third-lowest. ABC’s telecast of Sunday’s three-hour, 17-minute ceremony from the Dolby Theatre averaged 18.755 million viewers, according to live-plus-same-day figures released by Nielsen Tuesday.

Viewership was up 12.47% from the 2022 ceremony, which averaged 16.675 million viewers. The 2021 ceremony has the record low, 10.403 million, part of a sharp decline in viewership for award shows during the coronavirus pandemic, when they were held in months they were usually not scheduled for and had format changes prompted by COVID-related restrictions.

The Academy Awards ceremonies held since 2018 are the only ones on record to average fewer than 30 million viewers. Individual viewership figures have been kept since 1974. The Oscars have aired on ABC each year since 1976, and the network’s contract with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to air them runs through 2028.


Sunday’s ceremony was the most-watched awards show since the 2020 Oscars, which averaged 23.639 million viewers.

Compared to other major television events this season, the Oscars averaged about one-sixth of the viewership of the 113.055 million average for Fox’s telecast of Super Bowl LVII on Feb. 12, and topped ESPN’s Jan. 9 coverage of the College Football Playoff title game, which averaged 16.627 million viewers for Georgia’s 65-7 victory over TCU.

Like nearly all forms of programming, viewership for awards shows has declined in recent years because of increased options available on streaming services, including the same programs as on traditional television.

Viewership for CBS’ coverage of the Grammy Awards on Feb. 5 averaged 12.545 million viewers, up 30.8% from 2022 but still the third-lowest on record .

The 2022 Grammys Awards broadcast, which was delayed to April due to a surge in COVID-19 cases in the Los Angeles area, averaged 9.587 million viewers, airing when television viewing is traditionally lower.

The Primetime Emmy Awards on NBC Sept. 12 averaged 5.924 million viewers, its seventh record low in eight years. The previous low was 6.36 million in 2020 when it aired on ABC. The Emmy Awards annually rotate among the four major broadcast networks.


The Oscars gave ABC its first weekly ratings victory of the 25-week-old 2022-23 prime-time television series, averaging 5.04 million viewers between March 6 and Sunday. CBS finished second after five first-place finishes in six weeks, averaging 3.93 million viewers. NBC was third, averaging 3.04 million viewers.

The CBS comedy “Young Sheldon” was the only program not related to the Oscars to average more than 7 million viewers, averaging 7.658 million, third for the week.

ABC’s highest-rated non-Oscars program was its drama about Seattle firefighters, “Station 19,” which was 21st for the week, averaging 3.975 million viewers.

The first two episodes of the spring season of the singing competition “The Voice” were NBC’s top two programs. The two-hour season premiere March 6 averaged 6.436 million viewers, fifth for the week, while the hourlong blind auditions episode the following night averaged 5.121 million viewers, 12th for the week.

Fox averaged 2.14 million viewers. The first original episode of the procedural drama “9-1-1” since Nov. 28 was its ratings leader, finishing 13th for the week, averaging 4.954 million viewers.

Fox aired the only premiere on the five major English-language networks, the dating series “Farmer Wants a Wife,” which was third in its 9-10 p.m. time slot Wednesday and tied for 59th for the week with the ABC comedy “The Goldbergs,” averaging 2.463 million viewers. “Farmer Wants a Wife” was ranked fourth among Fox’s programs. It retained 61.3% of the audience of “The Masked Singer,” which preceded it. “The Masked Singer” averaged 4.017 million viewers, third for Fox programs and 20th for the week.


The CW averaged 400,000 viewers. Its biggest draw for the fourth time in six weeks was the magic competition series “Penn & Teller: Fool Us,” which averaged 570,000 viewers, 181st among broadcast programs. Its overall ranking was not available.

The top 20 prime-time programs consisted of the Oscars and two red-carpet programs preceding it; nine CBS scripted programs, its newsmagazine “60 Minutes” and its alternative series “Survivor”; two editions of the NBC singing competition “The Voice”; three Fox programs, “9-1-1,” its spinoff, “9-1-1: Lone Star” and the singing competition “The Masked Singer”; and the March 7 edition of the Fox News Channel political talk show “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”

The five highest-ranked prime-time cable programs were editions of “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” topped by the Tuesday broadcast, which averaged 4.136 million viewers, 19th overall. Fox News Channel won the cable network battle in prime time for the seventh consecutive week, averaging 2.199 million viewers. ESPN was second for the third consecutive week, averaging 1.285 million. MSNBC finished third for the fourth consecutive week following a second-place finish, averaging 1.053 million.

The cable top 20 consisted of 14 Fox News Channel weeknight talk shows (five broadcasts each of “Tucker Carlson Tonight” and “Hannity” and four of “The Ingraham Angle”); ESPN’s coverage of Duke’s 59-49 victory over Virginia in the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament championship and the 22-minute scoreboard show preceding it and following Texas’ 76-56 victory over Kansas in the Big 12 Tournament championship; History’s “The Curse of Oak Island”; the MSNBC news and opinion program “The Rachel Maddow Show”; and the first two hourlong segments of the USA Network’s “WWE Raw.”

The season finale of “The Last of Us” set another ratings high on Sunday night, delivering 8.2 million viewers across HBO Max and linear telecasts, based on Nielsen and first-party data, according to a statement released Monday by Warner Bros. Discovery Streaming.

“The Glory” was Netflix’s most-streamed program, with viewers spending 124.46 million hours watching the 16 episodes of the South Korean revenge thriller, including the second eight episodes of the first season that were made available Friday, according to figures released Tuesday by the streaming service.


“Luther: The Fallen Sun” was Netflix’s most popular movie, with viewers watching the continuation of the BBC psychological crime thriller for 65.92 million hours the first three days it was available.