Early ratings estimates suggest an abysmal year for Sunday’s 2018 Academy Awards broadcast.
Overnight Nielsen returns indicate the program averaged an 18.9 rating among households between 8p.m. and 11p.m. — down 16 percent from the same period the previous year.
While the early estimates leave out viewers who tuned in for the very end of the show — when the most-significant awards are distributed — the figures suggest 2018 might represent an all-time low for the 90-year-old award ceremony.
The 2008 Academy Awards were the least watched in history, with just 32 million viewers. The 2017 ceremony barely eclipsed that record low, by roughly 900,000 viewers.
Jimmy Kimmel hosted for the second consecutive year, peppering his opening monologue with references to the recent wave of sexual-assault allegations in Hollywood. The late-night host, who has recently waded into political activism, also plugged a gun-control protest organized by the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the site of America’s most recent mass shooting.
The Shape of Water, which brought in $57.4 million at the box office in the U.S. and Canada, won Best Picture. Gary Oldman won Best Actor for his rendition of Winston Churchill in The Darkest Hour.
The drop in viewership mirrors the decline of other perennial ratings stalwarts such as the Golden Globes and the Super Bowl, both of which experienced dramatic decreases this year, as more Americans abandon cable television in favor of digital streaming services.
Update 3:58p.m.: The 2018 Academy Awards were the least watched in history with just 26.5 million viewers. Viewership fell by 19 percent from the previous year and trailed the previous record low by more than 5 million, according to Nielsen audience numbers released Monday afternoon.