Seth MacFarlane gives Oscar telecast a ratings boost

While not universally lauded, his performance appears to have juiced viewership in at least one key demographic group.

By Jonathan Berr Feb 25, 2013 3:11PM
File photo of an Oscars statuette at the 84th Annual Academy Awards in Los Angeles, California on Feb. 26, 2012 (© REX Features)Seth MacFarlane was full of surprises when he hosted the Oscar awards show last night. This morning came another one: TV ratings for the 85th celebration of Hollywood's love affair with the movies were up over last year in the key 18- to 49-year-old demographic.

Early tallies for the show say it earned a 12.1 rating for that group, up more than from 3% from last year's final 11.7 figure, according to a report in Broadcasting & Cable, citing preliminary figures from Nielsen. Entertainment Weekly notes that total ratings for the Oscars also probably rose over last year's show hosted by Billy Chrystal. Final ratings, which may be different, will be released by Nielsen later today.

If these ratings hold, it will be a pleasant surprise for ABC and its corporate parent Walt Disney (DIS).Some had wondered whether MacFarlane, whose TV shows and movies appeal largely to men, would turn off the mostly female Oscar audience. His song-and-dance number celebrating actresses who have shown their breasts on the silver screen may have offended some, but it was tame stuff by MacFarlane's standards.

Best known as the creator of "Family Guy," MacFarlane got mixed reviews for his performance. The Hollywood Reporter noted that "He took the job extremely seriously and put himself out there. Ultimately, he excelled at balance." Others were less kind. USA Today blasted the show as being "awash in self-indulgence."   

What many MacFarlane detractors forget, though, is that there's a finite amount of celebrity back-slapping that viewers of the Academy Awards can stomach. Sharp-tongued hosts can remind the TV audience that the well-dressed men and women seated before them are making movies -- not curing cancer.

Given his ratings success and the show's desire to attract younger viewers, MacFarlane could even get asked back to host next year's telecast.

--Jonathan Berr does not own shares of the listed stocks. Follow him on Twitter @jdberr.
Feb 25, 2013 5:47PM

I watch the Oscars every year but it's pretty much a snooze fest when hosted by the likes of the now-ancient Billy Crystal and Whoopi Goldberg. MacFarlane brought in the edgy and at times tasteless humor that was expected of him--and he rocked the joint. My wife and I are beyond that 18-49 key demographic and we thought he was a hoot. His jokes were great, he has an outstanding singlng voice and can dance and--c'mon--a sock puppet version of "Flight", "We Saw Your Boobs", William Shatner as an ancient Capt. Kirk? I loved every minute of it.

Feb 25, 2013 6:09PM

It was clearly the BEST Oscars in my lifetime and I also, am way beyond he 18-49 demographic.

Anybody who thought it was crude or tasteless GROW UP!

Feb 25, 2013 8:22PM
I thought it was the worst ever, I think just as his animated shows appeal to a male audience, so did this Oscars. It was sexist and the humor was not as classy as prior telecasts. It was college humor, if that's who they want to appeal to then it succeeded. I won't watch again if he is the host, I expect a sense of humor  that appeals to everyone, men and women. It does make me a little sad, because I always thought of the show as very classy and if it stays this way, I'm not interested.
Feb 25, 2013 7:37PM
Worst Oscars yet !!! McFarlane was rude and obnoxious making sick twisted jokes and references. The music was way too loud overshadowing some of the speakers and the "Jaws" theme used to hurry along actors while they were speaking rude and insulting. (Flashing lights would have been a better choice).  Very disappointed
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