NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — The 88th Annual Academy Awards had controversy, Chris Rock, and a few surprises (“Spotlight” wins Best Picture!), but the big storylines on Hollywood’s biggest night brought in disappointing ratings for the Oscars.
The show drew a 23.4 overnight rating on Sunday night, according to ABC.
The ratings for the three and a half hour broadcast was down 5% from last year’s 24.6 overnight rating and would give the awards its lowest overnight rating in eight years.
It should be noted that overnight ratings can be inaccurate in terms of measuring viewership and more detailed numbers including viewership will be released later on Monday.
Al Sharpton on Oscar ratings
“The early reports of a decline in the Oscar viewership is heartening to those of us that campaigned around asking citizens to tune out. This is a significant decline and should send a message to the Academy and to movie studio heads. Though clearly we don’t take full credit for the decline, certainly one would have to assume we were effective and part of the decline. And to those that mocked the idea of a tune out, it seems the joke was on them.”
The low overnight ratings are surprising seeing that this year’s Oscars were one of the most talked about awards in recent years. This was due to backlash and protests over the Academy’s lack of diverse nominees.
The controversy, which was attached to the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite, was immediately taken on by host Chris Rock who opened the show with funny yet pointed commentary.
“Why are we protesting? The big question: Why this Oscars?” Rock said. “It’s the 88th Academy Awards, which means this whole no black nominees thing has happened at least 71 other times.”
The ceremony, which is annually one of the most watched TV events of the year, also had well known blockbusters like “Mad Max: Fury Road” and stars like Leonardo DiCaprio up for awards.
Reviews for the show were mixed with some like the Los Angeles Times calling it a “hot mess” but also remarking that it “certainly wasn’t boring.”
“It was also the first Oscars in memory that, nakedly and unapologetically, attempted to do something other than hand out a bunch of gold statues,” wrote Mary McNamara, the L.A. Times’ TV critic. “Which is revolutionary in and of itself.”