With no suspense, predictable winners, and an awkward pairing of hosts, the Oscars' preliminary ratingssank 7 percent from last year. The show fared better in younger viewers than older ones — ratings slipped just 2 percent in the 18 to 48 year-old age group. More detailed ratings of that younger demographic are due out later today.
The show wasn't a total bust — it did better than 2008 and 2009 telecasts. And considering the fact that this year lacked the type of blockbuster like 'Avatar' that drove last year's ratings higher, it could have been worse. But it was a major disappointment. Despite a big push to enliven the show with the youngest hosts in Oscar history, and a strong edited tape piece to kick off the show, it drew harsh reviews and critical attacks on Twitter.
The fact that viewers participated with the show on two screens — their TV and their smartphone — was expected drive ratings higher, not encourage people to turn off the TV. The pairing of Anne Hathaway and James Franco was designed to draw a young, hip — and bigger audience. But their energy didn't quite match — Hathaway was eager and jumpy, Franco mellow. An emphasis on the history of the Oscars didn't help. Our intern here at the LA bureau, a college student, pointed out that many of her friends had no idea who Bob Hope was.
ABC and the Academy were looking for addition revenue from paid apps — selling special behind the scenes access for 99 cents and $4.99. We'll be waiting to see how those Apps fared. With so many behind-the-scenes interviews before the show started, we'll see if how many people sprung for the app.
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