From Brad Pitt’s first acting Oscar to Eminem’s surprising performance, the 92nd Academy Awards was a memorable night.
The Oscars made history Sunday night, awarding the best picture trophy to a foreign-language film, South Korea’s “Parasite,” for the first time.
But the most prestigious awards show also made unwanted history for ABC, with the smallest audience on record. The 92nd annual Academy Awards notched just 23.6 million viewers, according to preliminary Nielsen estimates. That’s down 20% (or 6 million) from last year, and about 3 million less than 2018’s previous record low.
The declines mirror trends for other awards shows in recent years, though none faced as big a drop in a single year: NBC’s Golden Globes fell slightly, to 18.3 million from 18.6 million in 2019, while CBS’ Grammy Awards dropped to 18.7 million – its own record low – on Jan. 26, from 19.9 million last year.
Oscars 2020: South Korean film ‘Parasite’ wins four Academy Awards, including best picture
Bong Joon-ho made history by winning best picture for “Parasite” at the 92nd annual Academy Awards, and ABC made history by scoring record-low ratings. But the two may not be connected. (Photo: VALERIE MACON, AFP via Getty Images)
Why? The prominence of a film not widely seen that won four top awards can’t fully explain it, because the “Parasite” wins came late in the show. Neither can the lack of a host: The Oscars went without one last year, too, after Kevin Hart pulled out over an earlier controversy. And there were other contenders for top awards that proved popular at the box office, from Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” to World War I film “1917,” a late-arriving favorite for the top award.
The moments you missed at the Oscars, from ‘Parasite’ dominance to Eminem surprise
Oscars 2020: The winners list
But a big hit rallies viewers to cheer on a film, as evidenced by the Oscar’s record-high of 55 million in 1998, when global smash “Titanic” won best picture. The latest tally will have the motion picture academy, ABC and producers scratching their heads to help revive the broadcast.
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