Oscar Ratings Get a Nudge from 'Barbie' and 'Oppenheimer'

Published March 12, 2024

LOS ANGELES ā€” This year's edition of the Oscars saw a slight increase in viewership, largely thanks to the high-profile nominations of blockbusters 'Barbie' and 'Oppenheimer'. An estimated 19.5 million viewers tuned into ABC for the 96th Academy Awards ceremony, indicating the highest audience numbers in the past four years. However, this represents just a modest 4% rise from last year's 18.7 million viewers, hinting at a steady but slow recovery in Oscar viewership.

The Influence of 'Barbenheimer'

Experimenting with a new strategy, the Oscars started an hour earlier and prominently featured nominations for widely-seen movies ā€” a stark contrast from the less prominent titles of previous years. By featuring popular films like 'Barbie' and 'Oppenheimer', the Oscars hoped for a surge in viewer numbers. The ratings peaked in the last half hour when notable moments captivated audiences, including Ryan Gosling's performance of 'Iā€™m Just Ken' from 'Barbie', Cillian Murphy's Best Actor win, and Christopher Nolan grabbing the Best Director honor for 'Oppenheimer'.

High Expectations Meet Reality

Despite the star-studded moments and Emma Stone securing the Best Actress award, the ratings did not meet the lofty expectations set by the Academy and ABC. Once a contender for the most-watched program in the U.S. next to the Super Bowl, the Oscars have seen a downward trend in viewership over the years. The record audience of 55 million in 1998, buoyed by 'Titanic', contrasts starkly with recent figures. Although recovering from a pandemic low of 9.85 million in 2021, the current numbers hint that the Oscars' former glory remains out of reach. The ceremony has regained some ground since the historic slump, but it lies far behind the days when tens of millions were the norm.

Oscars, ratings, cinema