Oscars get lowest US TV audience ever

Tuesday, February 26 2008

Fewer people than ever tuned in to watch US coverage of this year's Academy Awards ceremony.

The three-hour show on ABC on Sunday averaged 32m viewers - 20% fewer than last year and the lowest on record for any Oscars.

It has been blamed on a lack of build-up thanks to the US writers' strike and the big prize contenders, No Country For Old Men and There Will Be Blood, not being popular blockbusters. However, there have also been lower-than-usual audiences for this year's Emmy Awards, Golden Globes and Grammys.

Full-scale preparation and promotion for the Oscars ceremony could not begin until the Writers Guild of America reached a deal with producers two weeks ago. Promotion therefore started much later than usual while the lack of new instalments of popular ABC dramas meant there were not so many viewers to watch trails.

The Oscars' previous low was 33m in 2003 - a few days after the invasion of Iraq began. In 2004, when The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King won best film, the audience rose to 43.5m but since then it has been in decline.