Oscar Ratings Solid: The Show? Not so Much

Despite much of New York not being able to see the first 13 minutes of the telecast, Oscar rating were up this year — aided by having the biggest movie in history, Avatar, nominated in most major categories.

Variety crunches the numbers:

According to Nielsen’s local overnights, which measure viewership in 56 of the nation’s largest markets, the 82nd Annual Academy Awards averaged roughly a 26.5 household rating/40 share from 8:30 to 11:39 p.m. ET (when the final national commercial aired), up nicely from last year’s 22.9/36.

Ratings for New York were lower than last year (roughly 29.4 vs. 34.1) due to a bitter battle between ABC flasghip station WABC and Cablevision that kept the kudocast off the screens in roughly 3 million homes until about 8:44 p.m. Even when the channel emerged from darkness, it likely took many viewers time to discover that the Oscars were indeed on the air.

Whereas Gotham represented the best overnight score a year ago, this year it belong to Chicago (37.6 rating), followed by West Palm (33.3), Boston (33.2), Kansas City (32.8) and San Francisco (31.8). In Los Angeles, the show pulled a 29.6 rating, up from last year’s 28.1

As for the show itself, most critics agree that despite Oscar’s promised revamp, the show felt stale as usual.

The Wrap’s Josef Adalian blames the lingering presence of Bruce Vilanch:

Instead of establishing some new paradigm for awards shows, Oscar 2010 was in many ways like an Academy Awards show from the past — complete with lame dance numbers, awkward host banter and jokes so corny and predictable, you’d think they were written by Bruce Vilanch.

Oh, wait: Vilanch actually was, once again, a writer for the Oscars.

The fact that Shankman and Mechanic couldn’t even see fit to dump Vilanch and his tired schtick is one big reason why this year’s show was more retread than revolutionary.

Tom O’Neil of the L.A. Times didn’t like the show much better.

The worst thing of the entire ceremony was the squirmish way that the lead-acting nominees were introduced when it came time to bestow their awards. Last year, Oscarcast producers Bill Condon and Larry Mark came up with a brilliant idea – to have each nominee introduced by a past winner of the prize. This year, Oscarcast producers Bill Mechanic and Adam Shankman kept the general idea but came up with the ridiculous twist of cutting out the Oscar tie-in. Thus presenters weren’t (for the most part) past winners. Some will probably never even be nominated (Colin Farrell, for starters). They were just pals of the nominees who embarrassed themselves by gushing silly over their good, good friends.

No thoughts on the Vilanch factor from O’Neil.