Ratings Box: Ellen gives boost to Oscars

Funny... I've never seen this picture before.
Funny… I’ve never seen this picture before.

* The Academy awards telecast on ABC Sunday night with Ellen DeGeneres as host scored the biggest ratings in fourteen years: the gala drew 43.74 million viewers and a 13.1/33 among adults 18-49, easily ranking as the highest-rated entertainment program of the year, up 0.7 percent from the 13/33 final numbers last year, and was up 8 percent in total viewers (40.38 viewers in 2013.) Clearly, the return of DeGeneres as Oscar host made a difference, as the daytime talk show host made a difference, as she was able to deliver more female viewers than last year’s host, Seth MacFarlane.

Locally, the Oscar telecast over WLS-TV drew a 35.6/53 in households, drawing more than a million viewers. The telecast was up from last year’s 33.1/50.

The 2014 Oscar telecast was more positively received than last year’s, despite being dull and slow in spots. But there were some missteps, notably Ellen giving the stars in the audience pizza – not to mention the “selfie” Ellen took with a few stars (see above), which became the most re-tweeted photo ever. Oscar’s effect lingered into Monday morning – and beyond, with numerous parodies of the group photo and endless covers of Let It Go, the Oscar-winning song from the Oscar-winning animated movie Frozen (including one from Dan Ponce.)

* More data was released regarding the just-concluded February sweeps period, and showed the good news extending beyond Olympics-fueled WMAQ-TV – WGN-TV had a lot to crow about as well. Its 9 p.m. newscast not only bested rival WFLD, but took second place in households behind the Olympics with a 5.3 rating, beating entertainment fare on CBS and ABC. WGN was up a whopping 231 percent from its prime-time lead-in (1.6) and was up 6 percent in rating from last year (5.0) But remember, both CBS and ABC sat out their original programming at 9 p.m. in February due to the Olympics, and many cable network shows did likewise.

WGN’s newscasts also topped its competition in the 6-9 a.m. morning slot in households and adult 18-49 and 25-54 demo, while its 11 a.m. newscast beat WLS’ Windy City Live, which fell to third place in households, even behind WBBM-TV’s midday newscast. Windy’s ratings so far have failed to match those it was earning at 9 a.m.

* Despite what was reported elsewhere, the Saturday night matchup between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Chicago Blackhawks at snowy Soldier Field was a big hit for NBC and the NHL. In Nielsen overnight ratings, the outdoor game drew a 2.1 overnight household rating, the highest-rated regular season game ever in primetime, excluding All-Star games (of course, there weren’t too many of these- the last time a NHL regular season contest aired in prime – excluding All-Star games – was on NBC in 1975.)

Chicago lead the way with a 14.9 household rating for WMAQ, becoming the most-watched program of the day in the Windy City and the highest-rated regular-season Blackhawks game in Chicago history. In fact, the Chicago number contributed to 25 percent of the national rating. Pittsburgh’s WPXI came in with a 13.3 household rating, also easily winning the time period.

Nationally, the game drew 2.8 million viewers.