War pummels Oscar ratings to lowest ever in US

MUMBAI: If there was no Lagaan to draw in those extra viewers in India, in the US, the 75th anniversary edition of the Academy Awards entered the record books on Monday as the least watched Oscar telecast ever. Gratis the US-led invasion of Iraq.

In India, Star Movies had undertaken some aggressive promotions to ensure that the Oscars generate interest amongst the audiences despite the fact that the country's entry this year, Devdas, unlike Lagaan last year, failed to get a nomination. This month has seen a Oscar-winning movie showcased every night in the lead-up to the big event.

In the US, though it was a damp squib. According to figures from Nielsen Media Research, ABC's three-and-a-half hour live broadcast of the ceremony, garnered a household rating of 20.4, the lowest level going back to the very first televised Oscar show in 1953, states a Reuters report.

The Nielsen score for the Oscars was down nearly 20 per cent from last year's previous all-time low, a 25.4 rating. Each rating point equals 1 per cent of the estimated 106.7 million US homes with television sets.

Also, the Oscar telecast hosted by comedian Steve Martin drew an average audience of 33.05 million, the smallest for the Oscars since 1974, the first year for which average audience figures are available.

However highlighting the brighter side, ABC estimates that 62 million US viewers tuned in for some portion of the show, which still ranks as the highest-rated entertainment special of the year. NBC's Primetime Emmy Awards broadcast in September averaged 20 million viewers, and CBS' Grammy telecast drew 24.8 million, both lower than the Oscars, adds the report.

Another reason attributed to the lacklustre TRPs for the Oscars is the curtailment of pre-show festivities, including the traditional red-carpet arrival of the stars. Elimination of the celebrity walk-up may have been particularly damaging to female viewership of the Oscars as the fashion spectacle is widely regarded as the Super Bowl of women's programming.

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