So how did the 84th Annual Academy Awards do on Sunday night with the return of Billy Crystal?
It depends who you ask — but it appears that this year's Oscars pretty much performed at the same level as last year.
While final numbers will be released later Monday, according to household metered market ratings, Sunday night's show grew slightly over last year's James Franco/Anne Hathaway-hosted ceremony, posting a 25.5 rating/38 share — a four-percent increase over last year's 24.5/37.
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However, according to fast affiliate ratings, which are highly subject to revision due to the nature of live programming, the Oscars were down four percent compared to last year's telecast with a 10.2 rating/23 share in the adults 18-49 demographic with 34.4 million total viewers.
The ceremony was preceded by red carpet coverage from 7 to 8:30, which posted a 4.8/14 in the demo and 19 million total viewers in the first half-hour, a 6.2/16 and 23.6 million total viewers in the second half-hour, and an 8.1/20 in the demo and 30.1 million total viewers in the third half-hour, according to fast affiliate numbers.
Overall, the Oscars coverage gave the network an easy win for the night with an average 8.8/21 in the demo and 30.5 million total viewers — again, per the fast affiliate measure.
CBS came in second for the night in ratings and total viewership, with an average 1.4/3 in the demo and 6.2 million total viewers. The network's sole original programming of the night, "The Amazing Race" at 8, was down 25 percent from last week's season premiere with a 2.1/5 in the demo and 7.6 million total viewers.
NBC, which tied for third with Fox in the demo with an average 1.3/3 in the demo but took a decisive third place in total viewers with an average 4.4 million, aired "Celebrity Apprentice" at 9. It was down 31 percent from last week's season premiere with a 1.8/4 in the demo — a series low — and 5 million total viewers. The network ran repeats for the remainder of the evening.
Fox ran repeats throughout the night.