The war with Iraq and the somber mood it has cast over the home front took a
toll on viewership of ABC's coverage of the 75th Academy Awards Sunday night.
If Nielsen Media Research's fast affiliate ratings don't change dramatically
when the final numbers come in Tuesday, it would be the smallest audience on
record for the awards telecast, with roughly 30 million viewers tuning in.
The previous low was for the 1987 telecast, when Platoon won best
picture, and when the average audience was 37.1 million.
Nielsen's fast affiliate ratings showed that Sunday's telecast averaged a 19.2
household rating and a 29 share from 8:30 p.m. to 11 p.m.
In comparison, last year's telecast averaged a 25.4/42 with 41.7 million
Still, the awards show easily beat all of the competition throughout the night.
With a mix of NCAA basketball, 60 Minutes and a special airing of
Without a Trace, CBS finished a distant second in households and third in
the key adult demographics.
NBC was third in households and a distant second in the demos with Fear
Factor, a movie (Billy Madison) and a Dateline special.
Fox was fourth with the movie Lost World: Jurassic Park 2.
For the night (7 p.m. to 11 p.m.), the Nielsen fast affiliate household ratings:
ABC 16.8/26, CBS 5.3/8, NBC 4.8/7 and Fox 3.5/5.
Adults 18 through 49: ABC 9.8/24, NBC 3.0/7, CBS 2.7/7 and Fox 2.3/6.
In the Nielsen local metered market ratings, The WB averaged a 2.2/3 with a special pre-Oscar show at 7 p.m., followed by repeats of Charmed and Angel.
On Saturday, NBC won households and adults 18 through 49 and 25 through 54 with Dateline and repeats of Law & Order: Criminal Intent and Law & Order: SVU.
CBS won adults 1 through 34 with NCAA basketball coverage.
The fast affiliate household ratings for the night were NBC, 6.6/11; Fox, 4.9/8; ABC, 4.8/8; and CBS, 4.7/8.
Adults 18 through 49: NBC, 3.1/9; Fox, 2.8/8; ABC and CBS, 2.5/7.
On Friday, NBC won households and adults 18 through 49 and 25 through 54 with two hours of war coverage under the Dateline banner and a Law & Order repeat.
ABC was second across the key categories with three hours of war coverage.
CBS and Fox tied for third in both adults 18 through 49 and 25 through 54.
CBS had basketball and Fox aired Fast Lane and John Doe.
For the night, the household ratings were NBC, 6.7/11; ABC, 6.1/10; CBS, 4.4/7; and Fox, 3.7/6.
Adults 18 through 49: NBC, 3.2/9; ABC, 2.8/8; CBS and Fox, 2.6/8.