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Hostless Oscars ceremony sees viewership jump 12%, the first gain in 5 years

Key Points
  • 29.6 million viewers tuned into the 91st Academy Awards on Sunday.
  • This was only the second time that the Oscars have gone without a host.
  • The whole ceremony, which started a half hour earlier than usual, clocked in at 3 hours and 20 minutes, about 40 minutes shorter than last year.
Rami Malek (Best Actor in a Leading Role: Bohemian Rhapsody), Olivia Colman (Best Actress in a Leading Role: The Favourite), Regina King (Best Actress in a Supporting Role: If Beale Street Could Talk), Mahershala Ali (Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Green Book) 91st Annual Academy Awards press room at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood, California on February 24, 2019.
Barcroft Media | Barcroft Media | Getty Images

A hostless Oscars ceremony didn't deter viewers on Sunday.

The 91st Academy Awards saw a 12 percent bump in viewership compared to last year, but the show, which has seen the number of people tuning in steadily decline since 2014, may not be about of the woods yet.

Comedian Kevin Hart withdrew from the hosting gig in December after homophobic tweets resurfaced. This was only the second time that the Academy Awards have gone without a host.

While the Oscars remain the top-viewed live entertainment broadcast in the U.S., interest in the Hollywood spectacle has waned in the last few years. Last year, only 26.5 million people watched the show, the lowest in the history of the broadcast.

This year, 29.6 million people tuned in. While this marks the first increase in viewership in nearly five years, the ceremony is still the second-lowest watched show in the history of the Oscars being broadcast.

As younger viewers spend less time watching traditional TV and more time online, awards ceremonies, and other major live events, have seen a downturn in viewership.

This year, the Oscars telecast benefited from star-powered musical performances from Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper from "A Star is Born" as well as Jennifer Hudson's rendition of "I'll Fight" from the documentary "RGB."

Although some wondered if not having a host would deter folks from tuning in, it seemed the show did just fine without an usher to direct the audience from category to category. Instead of a monologue, the show started with a concert-like performance from Adam Lambert and Queen and small bit of banter between Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph.

The night was narrated by Randy Thomas, who has been the announcer for the program for the last 10 years, bridging each award seamlessly into the next.

The whole ceremony, which started a half hour earlier than usual, clocked in at 3 hours and 20 minutes, about 40 minutes shorter than last year.

Without a host, the broadcast allowed for slightly longer bits between presenters, including a hilarious exchange between Melissa McCarthy ( "Can You Ever Forgive Me?") and Brian Tyree Henry ("Spider-Man into the Spider-Verse") ahead of the announcement for best costume design.

Melissa McCarthy and Brian Tyree Henry present the Oscar for best costume design at the 91st Academy Awards Sunday, Feb. 24, 2019, at the Dolby Theatre.
Craig Sjodin | Disney ABC Television Group | Getty Images

The awards ceremony itself was a celebration of diversity and inclusivity as a breadth of winners took home the coveted statuette.

In the four top acting categories, two winners were black, one was of Egyptian descent and the other was British.

In addition, for the first time awards for best costuming and best production went to African American nominees. Ruth Carter took home the Oscar for best costuming for her work on "Black Panther," and Hannah Beachler for production design, also for her work on the super hero film.

Other firsts of the night included Alfonso Cuaron's "Roma" winning for best foreign film, marking the first time a Mexican film has ever won in the category.

Spike Lee was greeted with a standing ovation as the film industry veteran took the stage to claim his first Oscar for best adapted screenplay for his work on "BlacKkKlansman." Lee has previously been nominated for best documentary feature in 1998 for "4 Little Girls" and best original screenplay in 1990 for "Do the Right Thing." He received an honorary Oscar in 2016 for his directorial accomplishments.

For a full list of the 91st Academy Award winners click here.