Oscars Ratings 2013: Viewership Up, Especially Amongst Younger Audience

Family Guy can be offensive — really offensive. The movie Ted is in the same boat, the film was littered with sophomoric, crude jokes. This year’s Oscars, hosted by Seth MacFarlane, the creator of Family Guy and Ted, weren’t much different. Heavy on the misogyny, MacFarlane was offensive to women in a myriad of ways (those in the workplace, those who were naked on screen, those who are Latina, those who have been in an abusive relationship). Amy Davidson of The New Yorker, put it into perspective.

Even so, the Oscars had its best television ratings in years.

Sunday night's Academy Awards attracted 40.3 million total viewers, the most since 2010. More importantly for the show, it drew a 13.0 rating in the 18-49 demographic, a key age group for advertisers. The 18-34 age group also did well, with a 11.3 rating, its highest performance in that demo since 2007. The success in the younger can most likely be attributed to MacFarlane. For the Oscars, hiring MacFarlane as a controversial host may not be paying off in reviews, but it paid off in ratings. While the ratings were great news for the Oscars, the award show should now hope to find a host who can attract viewers and make people laugh without making them cringe as well. 

After James Franco and Anne Hathaway tried to destroy the Oscars forever in 2011, the award show moved back to an old staple, having Billy Crystal host in 2012. In an attempt to attract younger viewers, they hired MacFarlane for the 2013 gig. Numbers-wise, he didn't disappoint. He did, however, earn less than rave reviews. So the question is this: should the Oscars bring back MacFarlane? He is someone who brought viewers, which is the main objective for a show in attracting advertisers. Here's the thing, though, you don't have to be offensive for great ratings. 

Tina Fey and Amy Poehler proved that funny can be charming and sweet at the 2013 Golden Globes. 

To compare the numbers: the 2013 Oscars saw an 11% improvement in the 18-49 demographic. Meanwhile, the Fey-Poehler hosted Golden Globes saw a 28% jump in that same demographic (it should be noted, that the Golden Globes had about half the viewers of the Oscars, so those numbers are skewed some).

Fey and Poehler provided a boost for the Golden Globes and earned rave reviews. Creating fake nominees in categories and graciously accepting defeat to Lena Dunham, Fey and Poehler showed that you can be funny without using jokes that make the viewer think, "Can I laugh at that?"

Hopefully next year's Academy Awards find a host that not only attracts viewers, but also makes them laugh without cringing. 

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Liam Boylan-Pett

Liam is a culture writing intern at PolicyMic. His work has appeared in "Running Times" and other running publications. He is also a professional middle-distance runner for the New Jersey-New York Track Club. After graduating from Columbia University with his bachelor's degree, he earned a Master's of Professional Studies in Journalism from Georgetown University. Originally from Bath, Mich, he spends his time watching TV, reading longform journalism, and thinking about who is going to be in the NCAA basketball tournament's Final Four.

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