Seth MacFarlane can breathe a sigh of relief: Sunday night's telecast of the 85th Academy Awards ceremony ratings were up, according to early reports.
The MacFarlane-hosted awards show on ABC garnered a 26.6 overall rating with households and a 41 share, a four percent gain over last year's show. In the coveted adult 18-49 demo, the telecast fared even better: up 19 percent over last year by earning a 12.1 rating.
Those overall numbers make it the most-watched Oscars telecast since 2007 (27.7/42 overall rating), when Ellen DeGeneres hosted and Martin Scorsese's The Departed won Best Picture. In 2012, the show nabbed a 25.5/38 overall, with veteran host Billy Crystal stepping back into his role and the black-and-white silent film The Artist winning five awards.
The year-over-year improvement could be attributed to the fact that six of the nine Best Picture nominees – which included winner Argo, Lincoln, Les Misérables and Silver Linings Playbook – have earned more than $100 million at the box office to date – as opposed to The Artist, which only banked about $45 million when all was said and done. Also, high-profile stars like Daniel Day-Lewis, Jennifer Lawrence and Anne Hathaway walked away with the night's top acting prizes.
Other ratings-boosting factors could include general interest in first-time host MacFarlane, best known for creating raunchy comedies, including the movie Ted and the animated TV series Family Guy. The ceremony also had a theme, "Music in Film," for the very first time.
In the spirit of the theme, the night was chock full of musical performances, including ones by Adele, who won Best Original Song for the title track from Skyfall; Barbra Streisand, who sang "The Way We Were" as part of the In Memoriam segment; Jennifer Hudson, whose rendition of "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" helped nab her a Best Supporting Actress Oscar in 2007 for Dreamgirls; and Shirley Bassey, who capped off a tribute celebrating the 50th anniversary of the James Bond films.