Fast National ratings for Sunday, March 2, 2014.
Early numbers are in for Sunday night and, not surprisingly, they favor ABC and its broadcast of the 86th Academy Awards.
In addition to the usual caveats, there are a couple points of information:
1) ABC promises time zone-adjusted fast nationals for 3 p.m. ET, give or take, and those numbers will accurately depict ratings for the Oscars. These numbers only depict time period data and, as with Emmys, Golden Globes and Super Bowl ratings, they're essentially meaningless. I write them up anyway, but only because I assume you won't put any more stock in them than “essentially meaningless.”
2) While the Oscars continued far later, the official Nielsen end-time for the Oscars will be 11:41, which was when the last national commercial spot aired.
3) The 2014 Academy Awards telecast is up over last year in metered market households and may be on track for the biggest overall numbers since 2005. But that doesn't mean anything. Remember how the most recent Super Bowl didn't seem to be tracking toward another audience record? And then it turned out to be the most program ever? Yeah. Numbers change.
On to the numbers, which include inaccurate Oscars numbers, plus slightly more accurate tallies for “The Amazing Race: All-Stars” and two newsmagazines.
Among adults 18-49, ABC averaged a 10.2 rating for Sunday primetime, easily topping the night in the key demographic. NBC, CBS and FOX all averaged a 1.0 key demo rating for second.
Overall, ABC averaged an estimated 35.155 million viewers and a 20.0 rating/30 share for Sunday night. CBS was a distant second with 5.405 million viewers and a 3.5/5, followed by NBC's 3.735 million and 2.4/4. FOX's 1.4/2 and 2.29 million viewers trailed.
7 p.m. – ABC's “Oscars Red Carpet Live!” coverage averaged 23.55 million viewers and a 6.0 rating among adults 18-49 in the 7 p.m. hour, but keep in mind that on the West Coast, that was getting into the meat of the real Oscar telecast. CBS' “60 Minutes” was second with 9.23 million viewers and a 1.4 key demo rating. NBC's “Dateline” averaged 3.71 million viewers and a 0.8 key demo rating in third, while FOX's animation repeats averaged 1.85 million viewers and a 0.7 key demo rating.
8 p.m. – The end of Oscars red carpet coverage (33.3 million and a 9.1 key demo rating) and the start of the telecast (45.32 million and a 13.6 key demo) ruled the 8 p.m. hour for ABC. CBS' “The Amazing Race: All-Stars” finished second with 6.04 million viewers and a 1.5 rating among adults 18-49. NBC's “Dateline” rose to 4.61 million viewers in third and a 1.0 key demo rating in fourth. FOX's repeats of “The Simpsons” and “Bob's Burgers” averaged 2.48 million viewers and a 1.1 key demo rating.
9 p.m. – Because of time zone fun, the Oscars slipped to 40.09 million viewers and a 12.0 rating among adults 18-49 in the 9 p.m. hour, which is reflective of the show ending on the West Coast, not other weird things. CBS' repeat of “The Mentalist” averaged 3.47 million viewers for second and a 0.5 key demo rating for third. NBC's “The Voice” encore was close behind with 3.26 million viewers and finished third with a 0.9 key demo rating, compared to the 2.55 million viewers and 1.2 key demo rating for FOX's “Family Guy” and “American Dad” repeats.
10 p.m. – The Oscars finished with 37.666 million viewers and an 11.5 rating among adults 18-49 for ABC. NBC's “The Voice” encore averaged 3.36 million viewers and a 1.1 key demo rating, topping the 2.885 million viewers and 0.4 key demo rating for CBS' “The Good Wife” encore.
All ratings information comes from preliminary Fast National Nielsen data, which includes live and same-day DVR viewing. All numbers are subject to change, particularly in the case of live events.