Last night, millions tuned in live to witness the 89th annual Academy Awards ceremony, more commonly referred to as simply The Oscars. As usual, the event was a star-studded affair, brimming with A-list talent from both in front of and behind the camera. First time host Jimmy Kimmel stepped up to the Oscars plate, and by most accounts did pretty well, despite his self-deprecating jokes about not being asked back. One particularly memorable bit even involved Kimmel surprising an unsuspecting group of tourists by bringing them into the actual ceremony.
Of course, the night was also not without controversy. A few of Kimmel's more racially-charged jokes drew social media scoldings throughout the night, while some were turned off by the sheer amount of political material, both in Kimmel's jokes and the winners' speeches. Still, the ceremony seems to have been generally well-received, despite the major envelope flub that led to La La Land's cast and crew initially accepting the Best Picture award that really belonged to Moonlight.
Unfortunately, while millions did tune in, it appears that it wasn't quite as many millions as last year. According to Variety, the 2017 Oscars earned a 22.4 household rating and a 36 share, along with a 12.7 rating in the advertiser coveted 18-49 viewer demographic. While these are just the overnight numbers - the final adjusted numbers will arrive later today - they are still likely a good indicator of where the ratings will end up. By comparison, 2016's Oscars ceremony earned a 23.4 household rating and a 36 share. That ultimately translated to a total audience of 34.3 million viewers.
While this ratings dip is obviously not good news for the Oscars' current host network ABC, it is at least a slightly smaller year to year dip than that suffered by the 2016 and 2015 ceremonies. All told, the Oscars managed to lose nearly 10 million total viewers between 2014 and 2016. 2014's Ellen DeGeneres-hosted ceremony drew 43.7 million viewers, the largest total Oscar audience since the turn of the millennium. Assuming the ratings don't adjust slightly up in the final numbers, the 2017 telecast will mark the lowest-rated ceremony since Jon Stewart hosted in 2008.
One might assume that the 2017 Oscars' unusually lengthy running time - 3 hours and 50 minutes, the longest in 10 years - could have played a factor, but that's apparently not the case, as the audience level remained mostly consistent throughout the event. Despite the ratings drop, ABC still reaped big financial rewards from broadcasting the ceremony, reportedly hauling in over $100 million in ad revenue.