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Oscar audience up 5 mil from previous year's

Backstage with winners Jeff Bridges and Mo'nique. ABC photos

Sunday night's 82nd annual Academy Awards lured 5 million more viewers nationally than the last one, giving ABC its most-watched Oscars telecast in five years.

The three-hour, 37 minute show, hosted by Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin, averaged 41.3 million viewers compared to 36.3 million in 2009. It fell just short of the 42.1 million viewers for the 2005 ceremony, in which Million Dollar Baby won for best picture.

Nielsen began tabulating total viewer numbers for the Oscars in 1974, when 44.7 million watched NBC's presentation.

The least-watched Oscars were in 2008, when just 32 million viewers cared enough to see No Country For Old Men win for best picture. Oscar's record-setting audience came in 1998, with 55.2 million on hand to watch Titanic sink the competition.