Oscar program ratings decline by 8%

NEW YORK (AP) -- An estimated 38.8 million people watched the Academy Awards on ABC, down 8 percent from last year and the worst since 2003, according to Nielsen Media Research.
Except for the 2003 count of 33 million viewers -- when "Chicago" took the best-picture award -- the Oscars hadn't dipped below 40 million viewers since 1987, Nielsen said.
With the lack of blockbuster films in the running, it wasn't much of a surprise that ratings were down for Sunday's telecast, when "Crash" won the best-picture Oscar.
The audience was smallest during the first half-hour, when host Jon Stewart did his monologue, Nielsen said, but ABC gained from last year among men aged 18 to 34.
Other awards shows have been struggling lately, too: The Grammys last month had its smallest audience on record and the Golden Globes its second lowest viewership in 10 years, Nielsen said.

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