LOS ANGELES — The doomsday ratings scenario has hit the Oscars.
A record low 26.5 million people watched Sunday night’s telecast, a nearly 20 percent drop versus last year.
It also represents a startling drop off: As recently as four years ago, the Academy Awards had an audience of 43.7 million viewers.
The previous record low was in 2008 when 32 million viewers watched a hastily organized ceremony that proceeded just days after the Writers Guild of America’s strike had ended.
Moving the ceremony up to 8 p.m. on Sunday on ABC — a half-hour earlier than its 8:30 p.m. slot — did little to aid the show’s rapidly declining audience.
ABC executives were concerned enough before the ceremony that they said publicly that Oscar winners should not feel compelled to make fiery political speeches. Keeping things frothy and fun would do just fine.
And the show, for the most part, stayed away from the industry’s concerns over the Trump administration (a contrast from a politics-heavy Golden Globes and Emmys), though it did emphasize the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements.