Despite drawing a sizable viewing audience Sunday, the 83rd Academy Awards ceremony ultimately fell short of a major production goal - to top last year's ratings. During its 3-hour presentation marked by few Oscar upsets and a largely predictable slate of winners and losers, the Oscars drew an audience of 37.6 million viewers. Year over year, however, the broadcast fell a substantial 9% in total viewership and another 12% in the critical 18-49 demo. In this regard, the inclusion of youthful hosts Anne Hathaway and James Franco, ironically, did not manage to curb the dreaded loss of younger viewers.
For the night, ABC still finished first among its network rivals, besting Fox, CBS and NBC respectively. As per Oscar night tradition, the predictable bonanza of other-network repeats failed to make a dent in the 83rd Academy Awards. To that end, it was during the live telecast Sunday that the ABC Television President announced a contract extension to carry the annual Academy Awards presentations for six additional years through 2020 - a welcome announcement for the network, assuming that James Franco and Anne Hathaway won't return as hosts during the next decade.
On Monday morning, no shortage of television critics took aim at Oscar hosts Franco and Hathaway, although the harshest critiques were certainly directed toward Franco and his subdued, sleepy demeanor. A plethora of entertainment reporters and television critics concur that while youngsters Hathaway, 28, and Franco, 32, may have delivered youth, they also delivered a lackluster hosting effort, particularly when compared to last year's performance by considerably older hosts Steve Martin, 65, and Alec Baldwin, 52.
Even Kirk Douglas' long-winded, rambling, but still hilarious rant leading up to the presentation of the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress is considered by many to have been exponentially more entertaining than virtually all the comedic fodder pitched to the audience by hosts Hathaway and Franco.
Notwithstanding the widely perceived sub-par performance by the show's masters of ceremony, it could also be observed that Sunday's Oscar ratings slump could be a function of this year's ceremony lacking the mainstream blockbuster power of last year's award show presentation, which was dominated by the likes of Avatar. Excuses aside, the jabs continue to fly and they're landing squarely upon the shoulders of this year's less-than-dynamic hosting duo. According to many, Sunday's presentation of the 83rd Academy Awards could go down as one of the worst Oscar telecasts in history.