Feb 27 (Reuters) – ABC’s Sunday night broadcast of the Academy Awards hosted by comic Jimmy Kimmel drew the smallest
audience since 2008 despite a memorable ending that will go down in history.

Some 32.9 million U.S. viewers watched the ceremony, a 4 percent drop from the 2016 Oscars which drew 34.4 million
viewers, according to Nielsen data released on Monday by ABC, a unit of Walt Disney Co. The 2008 Oscars averaged 32
million viewers.

Oscar Award - Hyatt Regency Sha Tin

The awards ceremony went a few minutes past midnight on the East Coast and ended in controversy when “La La Land” was
mistakenly named best picture winner after presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway were given the wrong envelope. The actual winner, announced minutes later, was “Moonlight.”

The chaotic and heart-stopping finale made for great television, but came too late to help ratings.

Viewership may have declined because “La La Land” had been a heavy favorite to sweep the awards, leaving little suspense for the TV audience, said Jeff Bock, senior box office analyst at Exhibitor Relations Co.

“Moonlight” has a $22.3 million domestic box office haul, making it the smallest-grossing best picture winner since “The Hurt Locker” won in 2010, and the second-lowest since at least 1978, according to Box Office Mojo.

The decline in viewership for the Oscars breaks the streak of higher ratings for award shows in 2017 after both the
Grammys and Golden Globes showed gains over last year.

Despite the slide in viewership, the Oscars are still expected to be the most-watched non-sporting event on U.S.
television this year. ABC has the broadcast rights for the Oscars until 2028.

The show and Kimmel received generally positive reviews from TV critics.

(Reporting by Tim Baysinger in New York; additional reporting by Lisa Richwine and Piya Sinha-Roy in Los Angeles; Editing by Mary Milliken)