Oscar ups viewing figures despite Billy Crystal controversy

More viewers tuned in this year than 2011 according to early figures from ABC

The viewing figures for 2012’s Oscars were up an estimated 4 per cent year on year in the States, despite the ceremony attracting criticism for host Billy Crystal’s “blackface” performance.

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According to early predictions, ABC’s three hour broadcast drew 39.3 million viewers, compared to the 37.9 million who tuned in for Anne Hathaway and James Franco’s underwhelming performance in 2011.

ABC claimed that it was the second largest TV audience for the Academy Awards since 2007 and said that the event retained all of those viewers aged 18-49 who tuned in for the first time last year. However, this year’s Oscars audience was older than last year’s as a whole.

As well as proving to be a ratings success, the Oscars also emerged as a social media hit. On the night, Meryl Streep and Best Actor winner Jean Dujardin attracted the most mentions on the micro-blogging site, while Angelina Jolie’s leg-thrust also attracted plenty of comment, with a Twitter account called @angiesrightleg notching up 26,000 followers on the site.

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Crystal’s performance, blacked-up and playing a caricature version of Sammy Davis Jr during the Oscars opening ceremony, drew more negative comment from Twitter users, with US website Colorlines.com saying: “And the Oscar for Most Racist Host Goes to Billy Crystal in Blackface.”