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Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Fri.-Sun., Feb. 26-28) -- racially charged Oscars take a big year-to-year hit


Host Chris Rock devoted almost his entire monologue to what he termed “The White People’s Choice Awards.” Photo: Ed Bark

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Sunday night’s 88th annual Oscars ceremony, which doubled as a referendum on racial exclusion, fell far below last year’s turnout in the D-FW Nielsen ratings.

Hosted by Chris Rock and running from 7:30 to 11:07 p.m. on ABC, when the last closing credit rolled to the sounds of Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power,” the Oscars averaged 878,218 viewers and 346,151 in the key advertiser-prized 18-to-49-year-olds demographic.

That marked a sizable drop-off from the 2015 ceremony hosted by Neil Patrick Harris, which drew 1,004,256 total viewers and 428,197 in the 18-to-49 age range. In January of this year, NBC’s telecast of the Golden Globes had 524,098 total viewers and 228,650 within the 18-to-49 motherlode.

Earlier this month, the Grammy Awards on CBS pulled in 658,663 total viewers and 285,813 in the 18-to-49 realm. So look out, Oscars, both the Globes and the Grammys are gaining on you.

Rock joked early and often about the exclusion of African-Americans from the 20 acting nominees for the second year in a row. He said that earlier omissions in the 1950s and ‘60s didn’t prompt much criticism from the black community because “we had real things to protest at the time. We was too busy getting raped and lynched to care about who won Best Cinematographer. When your grandmother’s swinging from a tree, it’s really hard to care about Best Documentary Foreign Short.”

The host also jabbed at Jada Pinkett Smith’s much-publicized “boycott” of the Oscars, noting that she’s primarily a television performer. “Jada boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna’s panties. I wasn’t invited.”

Changes are coming, though, Rock promised, warming to his most pointed joke of the night. “This year in the ‘In Memoriam’ package, it’s just gonna be black people that was shot by cops on their way to the movies.” (The package ended up leaving out Abe Vigoda, who died in January and whose film credits included The Godfather and The Godfather: Part II.)

Rock returned to Oscar’s blackout throughout the night when he might have been much wiser to quit while he was ahead. The focus on the exclusion of African-American actors and actresses ignored the fact that Hispanics and Asians also were left out of the latest acting nominee mix.

The most potent TV attraction opposite the Oscars was AMC’s 8 p.m. episode of The Walking Dead, which drew 254,966 total viewers and 161,961 in the 18-to-49 demographic. Oscar organizers and ABC would kill to have well more than half of the ceremony’s audience within the 18-to-49 age range. But that again didn’t come close to happening.

(Your friendly content provider live-tweeted throughout the Oscars. You can find the thread here.)

In the Friday night Nielsens, CBS’ 9 p.m. episode of Blue Bloods as usual had the biggest haul of total viewers (247,884) while ABC’s Shark Tank and NBC’s Dateline tied for the top spot among 18-to-49-year-olds (57,163).

Here are Friday’s local news derby results for the 17th weekday of the February “sweeps” ratings period, which ends on Wednesday.

CBS11 drew the most total viewers at 10 p.m. while Fox4 dominated among 25-to-54-year-olds (main advertiser target audience for news programming).

Fox4 also remained unbeaten at 6 a.m. with another sweep and likewise ran the table at 5 and 6 p.m. So yes, only CBS11’s lone win kept Fox4 from pulling off a very uncommon double grand slam.

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