More than 15 million people tuned in to watch ABC’s coverage of the 94th annual Academy Awards, according to preliminary numbers from TV-ratings firm
That is a significant increase from last year’s record low of 10.4 million viewers of ABC’s broadcast of the ceremony, which was much smaller in scale due to Covid-19 concerns. ABC is a unit of
Walt Disney Co.
after the comedian made a joke about Mr. Smith’s wife,
Jada Pinkett Smith,
boosted ratings in the last hour of the show won’t be known until Nielsen issues its final ratings later this week, which will include quarter-hour breakdowns of viewership.
While the audience for Sunday’s telecast was a vast improvement from 2021, it is still a big decline from the 23.6 million who tuned in to watch the 2020 Oscars and continues a trend of declining viewership for the award ceremony.
Mr. Smith’s slapping Mr. Rock and subsequently cursing at the comedian from his seat stunned audience members and viewers alike. Social media exploded with people offering their takes, debating whether Mr. Smith had overreacted or Mr. Rock crossed a line, among other reactions to the incident.
Although ABC muted the audio soon after Mr. Smith began rebuking Mr. Rock, full-audio clips of the show from overseas including Japan and Australia soon made their way online.
The joke Mr. Rock made was about Ms. Pinkett Smith’s shaved head. She has said on social media that she is suffering from alopecia, a condition that causes hair loss.
Mr. Smith wasn’t asked to leave or escorted from the theater after hitting Mr. Rock. Moments later, he was announced as the winner in the Best Actor category for his portrayal of
father of tennis superstars Venus and
in the biographical film “King Richard.”
In his remarks, Mr. Smith apologized to the Academy and to viewers but not to Mr. Rock for his outburst.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences condemned the incident, saying in a statement that it “does not condone violence in any form.”
The Best Picture winner was “CODA,” a feel-good movie about a teen’s complicated relationship with her deaf family, scored an underdog victory over films long perceived as front-runners.
Write to Joe Flint at [email protected]
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Appeared in the March 29, 2022, print edition as ‘Hed Goes Here lka re.’