Regardless of who came out on top during the 95th Oscars, ABC was the big winner.
On Monday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced that ratings were up 12% over 2022, bringing in 18.7 million total viewers. Update: Those numbers rose to 18.8 million, 13% over 2022, once the final data was in.
The telecast also hit a 4.0 rating in the adults 18-49 demo, up 5% over 2022’s 3.8 rating.
That’s the second consecutive year of growth for the Academy Awards, signaling awards shows ratings are still trending upwards following a massive pandemic slump—though nowhere near the huge audience that the show used to routinely draw as recently as 2019, when nearly 30 million viewers tuned in.
Last year’s Oscars averaged 16.6 million total viewers and a 3.8 demo rating, according to Nielsen’s final numbers. At the time, that was a 58% in total viewers and 73% in the demo compared to 2021’s record lows.
Clearly, the audience responded to the Academy’s changes this year, which included reinserting all the categories into the broadcast and bringing Jimmy Kimmel back to host. The late-night personality previously had hosting duties in 2018.
The Oscars also went up against HBO’s broadcast of The Last of Us series finale Sunday night, which pulled in 8.2 million viewers across HBO Max and linear telecasts, a 75% increase since its premiere in January.
Among the highlights of the night in Los Angeles, Everything Everywhere All at Once took home seven statues, including Best Picture. In addition, Rihanna performed her song from Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, and Lady Gaga made a surprise appearance to belt out her hit from the Top Gun: Maverick soundtrack.
Though the numbers were up by over 2 million from 2022—with a 4.0 in the coveted adults 18-49 demo—it still doesn’t quite compare to 2020’s ratings, which were 23.6 million total viewers and a 5.3 demo rating. Those numbers were previously the lowest ratings for the ceremony until 2021’s fateful, Covid-19-delayed ceremony.
Softer Oscar ad revenue
On Friday, the company confirmed that it had sold out ad inventory for the telecast, with The Academy and Disney Advertising Sales securing a broad range of sponsors representing 15 categories. According to a source familiar with negotiations, this year’s ranged from $1.6 million to $2.1 million for 30-second ads at the 2023 show, which is slightly down from 2022 when Disney reportedly asked for between $1.7 million and $2.2 million for a 30-second ad.
On a positive note for Disney, the company also sold a majority of the ads during the upfront, which is a difference from 2021, when more ads were sold in the scatter market closer to the show date.
According to Disney Advertising, the categories include apparel, auto, beverage, consumer packaged goods, entertainment, financial services, insurance, luxury spirits, media and entertainment, pharmaceutical, retail, streaming, technology, telecom and travel.
Proud sponsors for this year’s program are Pfizer, Rolex and Verizon. That’s a slight change from the 2022 lineup, with Crypto.com dropping out as a top sponsor.
In addition to Nielsen measurement, Disney also allowed brands to measure advanced audiences in the Oscars through an integration through VideoAmp for the first time, giving advertisers advanced audience analytics to better understand precision, reach and frequency.
During an Oscars Creative Team press conference ahead of the ceremony, Glenn Weiss, executive producer and showrunner for the Oscars, reflected on the show’s ratings.
“There’s always concerns, but at the end of the day, what we have to do is keep going forward and make this as great and entertaining and respectful and reverent show as we possibly can,” he said.