Oscar Ratings Down: Who's to Blame?

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Feb. 28 2011, Published 8:38 a.m. ET

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Unfortunately, James Franco and Anne Hathaway failed to pull big ratings during last night's 83rd annual Academy Awards. According to the first round of statistics, TV audiences for the Oscar ceremony dropped about seven percent compared to last year's broadcast hosted by Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin.

The Academy's goal was to pull a younger demographic of people, but critics across the board slammed the decision to cast the two talented young actors as the evening's hosts.

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Last year, 41.7 million viewers tuned into the Oscars in U.S., the largest audience for Hollywood's highly-anticipated ceremony in five years.

Despite the seven percent drop in viewers, last night's broadcast on ABC was the most-watched TV show of the night, with more than double the audience of other TV networks combined, Reuters reports.

Also the during the 3 1/2 hour mark in the show (11-11:30 ET), when the The King's Speech was crowned best film along with three other big Oscars, the 18-49 demographic most coveted by advertisers, held strong, according to Nielsen figures, via Reuters.


But it is still a bunch of tough love for Anne, 28 (the youngest host in Oscar history) and James, 32, who was also an Oscar nominee for 127 Hours.

Anne Hathaway
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Are they to blame for the drop in ratings? Are hosts a big selling factor for viewers? Possibly, but we hate to knock the duo, who seemed to give it their all.

This morning's media recaps, however, were less than friendly.

The Hollywood Reporter gave a hard review to the young hosts: “In what could go down as one of the worst Oscar telecasts in history, a bad and risky idea — letting two actors host — proved out in spectacularly unwatchable fashion on the biggest of all nights for the film world.”

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The New York Times and L.A. Times echoed a similar sentiment.

NYT:  “At times, the prolonged effort to pander to younger viewers was downright painful. … A little like the attempt to graft Generation Y technology to old-fangled Hollywood panache, their stage personas clashed: Mr. Cooler-Than-Thou and Miss Eager-to-Please never really synched.”

LAT: “Overall, the evening had an oddly business-like feel, a mind-numbing evenness that was exacerbated by the relentless predictability of the winners, and the fact that none of the acting winners were played off no matter how long their ‘thank-yous’ went.”

Entertainment Weekly, however, lauded the youngsters, dubbing them  "marvelous Oscar hosts" calling them "funny, poised, relaxed, and smart."


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