The least-watched Oscar telecast on record was enough to give ABC its first — and likely lone — weekly victory during the official 2019-20 prime-time television season, according to live-plus-same-day figures released Tuesday by Nielsen.
Sunday’s hostless three-hour, 21-minute ceremony from the Dolby Theatre averaged 23.569 million viewers. The previous low was 26.541 million for the 2018 ceremony that ran for three hours, 54 minutes and was hosted by ABC late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel.
Viewership was down 20.3 percent from last year’s average of 29.558 million viewers for a three-hour, 13-minute ceremony that also went without a host.
Each of the past three Oscar ceremonies are the only ones to average less than 30 million viewers. Individual viewership figures have been kept since 1974.
Viewership for most forms of programming has decreased in recent years, in part because of competition from streaming programs, including streams of the same programs shown on traditional television.
In a week when the Tuesday schedules were scrambled for coverage of the State of the Union address, ABC averaged 7.66 million viewers for its prime-time programming between Feb. 3 and Sunday.
ABC’s most-watched program over the first six days of the week was Friday’s Democratic presidential debate which averaged 7.867 million viewers, the most for the night and 10th among the week’s broadcast and cable programs, including trailing three segments of Fox News Channel’s State of the Union address coverage.
CBS was second for the week, averaging 4.8 million viewers, followed by Fox News Channel, which averaged 4.27 million, NBC, which averaged 4.11 million and Fox, which averaged 3.16 million for it 15 hours, 44 minutes of programming.
ABC, CBS, Fox News Channel and NBC each aired 22 hours of prime-time programming.
With CBS opting to air a rerun of “NCIS,” the season’s highest-rated entertainment program, its comedy “Young Sheldon” was the week’s highest-rated scripted program, averaging 8.988 million viewers, seventh overall.
The three elements of NBC’s “Chicago” franchise accounted for the three highest-rated dramas.
“Chicago Med” was eighth for the week, averaging 8.671 million viewers, “Chicago Fire” ninth, averaging 8.192 million viewers and “Chicago PD” 14th, averaging 7.151 million viewers.
Fox’s most-watched program was “The Masked Singer,” 12th for the week averaging 7.456 million viewers.
The CBS police drama “Tommy” was the most-watched of the week’s two premieres, averaging 4.786 million viewers, first in its Thursday 10-11 p.m. time slot and 37th for the week.
Viewership grew to 7.09 million when viewing from three days after the premiere aired is included.
The week’s other premiere, the Fox competition series “Lego Masters* was fourth in its Wednesday 9-10 p.m. time slot and 41st for the week, averaging 4.733 million viewers, third-most among Fox programs.
The State of the Union averaged 37.2 million viewers on the 12 networks that aired live coverage, a 20.5 percent decrease from the 2019 address that averaged 46.8 million.
Fox News Channel’s airing of the State of the Union address was the week*s most-watched cable program and third overall, averaging 11.684 million viewers.
Four other elements of Fox News Channel’s State of the Union coverage accounted for the rest of the week’s five most-watched cable programs.
MSNBC was second among cable networks, averaging 1.593 million viewers. HGTV was third, averaging 1.205 million.
The highest-rated Spanish-language program was the Monday episode of the Univision telenovela “Amor Eterno” which averaged 1.821 million viewers, 78th among broadcast programming. Its overall position was not available.
Univision was the most-watched Spanish-language network for the 10th consecutive week and 12th time in 13 weeks, averaging 1.43 million viewers. Telemundo averaged 1.04 million viewers to finish second, followed by UniMas, which averaged 640,000, Estrella TV, which averaged 160,000 viewers, and Azteca America, which averaged 60,000.
ABC’s “World News Tonight with David Muir” was the most-watched network nightly newscast for the 10th consecutive week, 61st time in 62 weeks and 113th time in 115 weeks, averaging 9.198 million viewers.
“NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt” was second, averaging 8.301 million viewers. The “CBS Evening News” averaged 6.147 million viewers. It has finished third each week since the week of Sept. 25-29, 2006.
The week’s 10 most-watched prime-time programs were ABC’s Oscars coverage, the 28-minute third segment of “Oscars: Live From the Red Carpet”; the State of the Union address on Fox News Channel and seven-minute analysis of the address; the 32-minute second segment of ABC’s “Oscars: Live From the Red Carpet”; a 10-minute preview of the State of the Union address on Fox News Channel; CBS’ “Young Sheldon”; NBC’s “Chicago Med” and “Chicago Fire”; and ABC News’ Democratic presidential debate.
>> Want to read more stories like this? Get our Free Daily Newsletters Here!Follow us: