Last night’s 88th Academy Awards marked an 8 year ratings- low for the program with 34.3 million viewers.
The show was hosted by comedian Chris Rock and aired on ABC. While 34.3 million doesn’t sound bad , it was the smallest recorded audience since the Jon Stewart- hosted Oscars in 2008, which had 32 million viewers. Only 13.2 million of these viewers were in the deeply- coveted 18- 49 year- old demographic, according to AdWeek.
Despite the relatively low ratings, last night’s show managed to top arguably the most important measure of popularity of our time: Twitter.
After many a meme, Leonardo DiCaprio finally won an Oscar for the Alejandro Iñárritu- directed The Revenant. (Fifth time’s the charm!) Not only was this a huge victory for DiCaprio, but the internet. The win was not just tweeted about 440,000 times, but 440,000 times per minute, according to a statement released by the social media Goliath itself. This obliterated the record set by last year’s infamous selfie featuring host Ellen DeGeneres, Jennifer Lawrence, and many more which was only tweeted about a pedestrian 250,000 times per minute.
The other most tweeted moments from last night include Spotlight‘s win for Best Picture and Mad Max: Fury Road‘s win for Sound Mixing.
Twitter has become a huge part of not just the Oscars, but television viewing in general. Countless people live tweet the Oscars allowing moments to go flat out viral. This is something that hasn’t been lost upon Rock, whose official twitter account has posted behind the scenes photo and video from rehearsals up to the actual show.
Even the controversy surrounding this year’s all- white nominees is known by #OscarsSoWhite. When Jada Pinkett Smith announced she’d be boycotting the Oscars due to this lack of diversity (her husband Will was snubbed after a critically- acclaimed performance in Concussion), she did so by posting a video on Facebook. You could argue that the entire reason the current conversation about diversity in the Academy is taking place is because of social media. It’s a strange phenomenon where events are not only discussed because of the internet, but created by it.
With the increasing presence of social media in live, televised events, Nielsen ratings are not necessarily the end- all- be- all of a program’s success. This is all personified in that most- tweeted moment, where after years of posting and sharing jokes about his illustrious but Oscar- less career, the internet proverbially joined hands in a joyful chorus when Leo finally won.