Academy Awards get better ratings for ABC

MUMBAI: There is some positive news for Disney's beleagured broadcast network ABC. Its broadcast of the 76 Academy Awards on 29 February did much better than last yEar's telecast.

US media reports indicate that 43.5 million viewers watched the final installment in the Lord Of The Rings trilogy The Return Of The King make a clean sweep. This was an increase of 32 per cent over last year's ratings. In India the show aired live on Star Movies on 1 March early in the morning.

ABC research chief Larry Hyams was quoted in a Newsday report saying that he was satisfied with the performance. However the figures were well below the 55.2 million figure which happened when Titanic like LOTR won 11 Oscars in 1998.

It must be said that while the host Billy Crystal was funny as usual there was nothing else too memorable that night. This writer felt that most of the acceptance speeches were sleep inducing and the thudding monotony of New Zealand being thanked due to LOTR did not help matters much. On a more positive note all the actors deserved their trophies. Sean Penn who won for Mystic River could have done with a bit of advance preparation as far as his speech was concerned.

A report in AP added that ABC and its cable affiliates heavily marketed the show with promotional spots and series that mentioned the awards. Characters on soap operas talked up the delights of the Oscars. The series I'm With Her had a running story line in which actress Teri Polo's character is up for an Academy Award.

Across the border too the news was good. A CP report stated that in Canada, BBM preliminary overnight ratings show that 5.7 million Canadians watched the awards. This is not surprising considering that its film The Barbarian Invasions won in the foreign language category. However as with the US the figure was well short of what the 1998 broadcast had received. Nielsen had reported that 6.6 million Canadians tuned in to watch James Cameron being crowned king of the world.

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