Black viewership of the Oscars was only slightly down; Latino audience grew by 8%

Chris Rock

Comedian Chris Rock’s presence as host of the 88th Academy Awards likely brought in some black viewers, despite calls to boycott the show over a lack of diversity among the nominees in the acting categories.

(Kevin Winter / Getty Images)

The running theme of the 88th Academy Awards was #OscarsSoWhite, but black viewership of the ABC telecast held up compared with last year.

Data from Nielsen showed that 3.22 million African Americans tuned in, just 2% under last year’s total.

African American viewers made up 9.4% of the total audience of 34.4 million who watched the Oscars. That figure is up from last year, when it was 8.8% of the total.

The total audience figure was 6% lower than last year and the lowest since 2008.


While boycott threats were made against the Oscars due to the lack of non-white nominees in the acting categories, the presence of comedian Chris Rock as the ceremony’s host likely brought in some black viewers. Among black men ages 18 to 34, Oscar viewership was up 19% over the previous year. It was also up 20% among white men in that age group. 

The overall white audience was 27.14 million viewers, down 9% from last year, a decline that may have been a reaction to the diversity controversy. A number of older people who identified as white e-mailed the Los Angeles Times to say they did not tune in to the Oscars because they grew weary of coverage of the diversity issue.

“The primary reason this 42-year-old white male and some of my white male and female coworkers and gym members did not watch the Oscars is because we are really tired and bored of watching minority comedians openly bash white people, calling us names that could never be reversed because of potential labels of racism,” wrote Craige Bennett of Orange County.

The Oscars did see an 8% increase among Latino viewers. An average of 4 million viewers in that group watched, making up 11.7% of the audience. It’s the third straight year that figure has increased.


Twitter: @SteveBattaglio


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