With twice as many films nominated for an Oscar on last night's 82nd annual Academy Awards, the hope was to draw audiences to the show that were fans of the most popular films, not just those receiving critical acclaim. Apparently the strategy worked.
According to Variety, preliminary figures on the viewership ratings indicate a 20% increase over last year's telecast. The official numbers are expected to be higher than the 40.2 million in the US who watched in 2007. The lowest-ever viewership was 32 million in 2008.
With televised events getting record-breaking audiences this year, from the Grammys to the Olympics, the Oscars wanted to keep up the momentum, end their sagging numbers and earn the title of ""Hollywood Biggest Night." The 2010 Super Bowl earned the largest-ever viewership of any television show with 106.5 million watching the game.
The predictability of the award winners, with the exception of the Best Picture category, put pressure on the entertainment value of the show. One effort the producers tried as a means to bring broaden viewership with a younger demographic, was to include presenters such as Miley Cyrus, and Twilight's Taylor Lautner and Kristen Stewart.
The early results don't include the worldwide viewerships, DVR playback, or the New York City area where the local cable TV company was in a dispute with the ABC television network which could have jeopardized the airing of the show. It was resolved at the last minute.
The last half-hour of the telecast, when the biggest awards of the night are presented, should show the largest share of the television audience. Though the biggest-ever film Avatar lost the top honor to The Hurt Locker, the Oscars are the winner this year.