Oscar ratings hit record low despite epic Best Picture mix-up

The “biggest Oscar flub in history” made history of another kind – one on the wrong side of the ratings ledger 

Cubs’ World Series victory drew more viewers locally and nationally 

The 89th Academy Awards wouldn’t be best known for boffo ratings – but for an epic screw up at the end.

Many expected La La Land – a musical receiving a record fourteen nominations – would sweep its way into the record books. But at the end for Best Picture, it was Moonlight taking home the biggest prize – in the most unusual way possible.

When it came time to announce Best Picture, presenter Warren Beatty was given the wrong envelope. Watch how it all unfolded here:


He was given the envelope for the one just read –  Best Actress, which went to Emma Stone in La La Land. Puzzled, Beatty stood for a moment and Faye Dunaway announced the winner for Best Picture was La La Land.

While the La La Land cast was on stage, producers were scrambling everywhere and came the announcement from someone that Moonlight won – not La La Land. A stunned audience at the Dolby Theater – and at home – were confused.

Mistakes where the wrong winners were announced are actually not new – it happened recently at the 40th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards, where Aisha Tyler realized she was given the wrong envelope. But on the biggest stage in Hollywood – in front of millions of viewers – this was an epic flub.

As for the show itself, this was a much better presentation than recent Academy Awards hosted by Anne Hathaway/James Franco (2011) and Seth MacFarlane (2013). Late-night talker (and radio veteran) Jimmy Kimmel did a very solid job of hosting, telling funny jokes and poking fun at President Donald Trump:

“Remember last year when it seemed like the Oscars were racist? That’s gone, thanks to him.” 

Kimmel even tweeted to Trump, saying #Merylsayshi. A running gag during the telecast was the “overratedness” of Meryl Streep, whom the President called out in a tweet a day after Streep criticized Trump.

In a tradition started by Ellen DeGeneres, the audience needed to be fed during the show – but this time instead of pizza, the crowd had candy parachuted from the rafters of the Dolby Theater.

In the night’s biggest moment (outside of the epic Best Picture mixup) were a group of people from a tour bus came in to the Dolby Theater to meet and greet those in attendance and take selfies with celebrities in the crowd. The one would stood out was “Gary” from Chicago, who he and his fiancee got “married” by Denzel Washington (unfortunately for Gary, the fame stops here as a background check found he was a convicted felon and eliminated him from being a guest on Kimmel’s late night show.)

Also cool: Kimmel’s shout-out to David Letterman who hosted the Academy Awards in 1995.

Jimmy Kimmel did an awesome job as host.

As for the awards, it was a welcome change to see more winners from diverse backgrounds than in years past. Among them were Viola Davis, who won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in Fences and Mahershala Ali, who won Best Supporting Actor in Moonlight.

Overall, a terrific Oscar presentation. As for the the ratings…well, that’s another matter.

According to Nielsen, the Oscars drew 32.9 million viewers with a 9.1 rating in the adults 18-49 demo – both historic lows. Those figures were down from last year (34.3 million viewers and 10.5 in adults 18-49) when Chris Rock hosted (yours truly was not able to watch 2016’s telecast nor write a review for reasons explained here.) The 2015 Oscars with Neil Patrick Harris as host drew 36.6 million viewers and a 10.8 rating in adults 18-49 – down from 2014’s Ellen-hosted show.

Once again, the crop of lesser-known pictures nominated were to blame for the depressed ratings. But also a factor is the obvious the tune-out from Trump voters, given the “values” Hollywood has isn’t theirs – it’s no surprise not a single market from a red state ranked in the top five in terms of ratings. Even Atlanta’s dominant WSB-TV – one of the highest-rated ABC affiliates in the country – didn’t crack the top five as they were from politically blue states and or/metropolitan areas.

In Chicago, the Academy Awards drew a 30.5 rating for WLS-TV – tying for third with Los Angeles’ KABC (New York’s WABC took top honors with a 31.1.) The local number however, is far short of the Cubs’ historic World Series win last November, which remains the most-watched event in Chicago so far this season (and this decade.) In fact, the Cubs’ Game 7 mega matchup also drew more viewers nationally (40 million) than this year’s or last year’s Oscars.

The Academy Awards will take place on March 4 next year due to the Winter Olympics taking place in February.

Last but not least, I was going to talk about Matt Damon – how he was received as a presenter and how he reacted to rival Jimmy Kimmel’s barbs.

But we’re out of time.