TV Ratings: 2011 Oscars drop slightly in young viewers, total audience

Twentysomething actors James Franco and Anne Hathaway were brought in to host the 2011 Oscars in the hopes of bringing in a younger demographic. Instead, their roundly-panned stint was down about 12 percent in the 18-49 demographic from last year’s show, co-hosted by sixtysomething Steve Martin and fiftysomething Alec Baldwin.

According to the Nielsen Fast National ratings, Sunday night’s Oscar telecast averaged an 11.7 rating among adults 18-49, down from 13.3 for last year’s show. (ABC took pains to note that the numbers were flat among both adults 18-34 and women 18-34.) And in terms of viewers of any age, the show averaged 37.6 million viewers, down from last year’s 41 million – a number that had as much to do with the popularity of “Avatar” as the identity of the hosts – but still the second-largest Oscar audience overall since 2007.

Given the scathing reviews, those aren’t bad numbers – though of course everyone tuned in initially before they realized how the show would go – but the stated goal for why they brought in young hosts was not met.