The 2022 Oscars ratings beat last year’s low but are still the second worst in history

The cast and crew of the film ‘CODA’ accepted the Best Picture award at the Oscars in Los Angeles on Sunday.


Robyn Beck/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

More than 15 million people tuned in to see ABC’s coverage of the 94th Academy Awards, according to preliminary figures from TV ratings firm Nielsen.

That’s a significant increase from last year’s record low of 10.4 million viewers of the ABC broadcast of the ceremony, which was much smaller due to Covid-19 concerns. ABC is a unit of Walt Disney co

Whether Will Smith’s slap in the face by Chris Rock after the comedian made a joke about Mr. Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, boosted ratings in the show’s final hour will not be known until Nielsen delivers its final later this week Ratings releases quarter-hour breakdown of viewership.

While audiences for Sunday’s telecast represented a huge improvement over 2021, it’s still a big drop from the 23.6 million who watched the 2020 Oscars and continues the trend of declining viewership for the awards show.

The fact that Mr. Smith slapped Mr. Rock and then berated the comedian from his seat stunned audiences and viewers alike. Social media exploded with people offering their take and debating whether Mr. Smith overreacted or Mr. Rock had crossed a line, among other reactions to the incident.

The 94th Academy Awards came to an abrupt end when actor Will Smith took the stage and punched comedian Chris Rock after he made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s short hair. Smith later won Best Actor, while Apple’s “CODA” took Best Picture. Photo: Brian Snyder/Reuters

Although ABC muted the audio shortly after Mr. Smith began rebuking Mr. Rock, full audio clips of the show from overseas, including Japan and Australia, soon leaked onto the internet.

The joke Mr. Rock made concerned Ms. Pinkett Smith’s shaved head. She has said on social media that she suffers from alopecia, a condition that causes hair loss.

Mr. Smith was not asked to leave the theater or escorted after hitting Mr. Rock. Moments later, he was announced as a Best Actor winner for his portrayal of Richard Williams, father of tennis superstars Venus and Serena Williams, in the biographical film King Richard.

In his remarks, Mr. Smith apologized to the Academy and viewers, but not to Mr. Rock, for his outburst.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences condemned the incident and said in a statement that it “does not condone violence in any form.”

The Best Picture winner was “CODA,” a feel-good film about a teenager’s complicated relationship with her deaf family that scored an underdog victory over films that had long been considered front-runners.

write to Joe Flint at

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Appeared in the print edition March 29, 2022 as “Hed Goes Here lka re”. The 2022 Oscars ratings beat last year’s low but are still the second worst in history

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