With most of the major categories dominated by little-seen movies like Hugo and The Artist, Oscars ratings watchers were preparing themselves for the worst. But Nielsen numbers released this morning reveal that last night’s Academy Awards telecast actually registered a slight boost over the previous year.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, ABC’s Oscars telecast earned a 25.5 household rating and a 38 share in its time slot, amounting to a four percent increase over the 2011 Oscars, which garnered a 24.5/37 number. Ratings are still down from their highs in 2010 (26.5/40) and 2007 (27.7/42), however.
With little else to account for the surprise good news, credit for the improvement is being assigned to the familiar face who presided over the 84th annual gala: Billy Crystal. Added essentially as an emergency replacement when scheduled host Eddie Murphy opted to drop out last November, Crystal’s trademark shtick drew many a groan from television critics. Still, the overwhelming majority still found the sexagenarian funnyman vastly preferable to the preceding year’s co-hosts, James Franco and Anne Hathaway, whose train-wreck performance went down as one of the worst-regarded in Oscars history. Let us never speak of it again.