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    TV Critic’s Corner

    Oscars suffer a big dip in TV ratings

    Host Jimmy Kimmel onstage during the 90th Academy Awards Sunday.
    Kevin Winter/Getty Images
    Host Jimmy Kimmel onstage during the 90th Academy Awards Sunday.

    The Oscars did not do very well in the ratings department this year. The ceremony, Sunday on ABC, averaged 26.5 million viewers. That’s the lowest number for the event ever, and it’s down 19 percent from last year’s 32.9 million viewers.

    Why? Well there are many possible reasons, and I don’t think “liberal Hollywood” is one of them. For one thing, there are too many awards shows, so that by the time the Oscars roll around, viewers may be tired of the same old characters. We’ve already seen Sam Rockwell and Allison Janney and most of the others on the circuit.

    Also, by the time the awards are ready to be handed out, we usually can guess which actors and movies are going to win. So the intrigue is minimal. If you were surprised by any of the major winners this year, you’ve probably been on a digital boycott.


    Another factor: The choice of hosts tends to be dull. I respect Jimmy Kimmel, who has hosted for the past two years, but he’s a safe, middle-of-the-road choice. Unlike edgier hosts, he’s not going to rile up the audience or go out on much of a comic limb. He’s predictable. Also, we can see him every night if we want, without sitting through montages and song nominees to hear his jokes.

    The numbers, too, may be a little faulty. Nielsen only tracks broadcast viewers and not viewers on other platforms, including streaming, an increasingly popular way to watch.

    Matthew Gilbert can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @MatthewGilbert.