The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the group that hands out the Oscars, says in a statement that it condemns Will Smith’s slap of presenter Chris Rock and has started a formal review of the incident.
About 15.36 million people watched the live broadcast on Walt Disney Co’s ABC network in the United States, a major jump from last year but the second-lowest audience ever, according to preliminary ratings data.
The figure for the film industry’s highest awards rose 56 per cent from last year’s record-low ratings, ABC said on Monday.
Early estimates for the 2021 show, which was scaled down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, came in at 9.85 million viewers.
An updated tally that will include viewership via live stream and at out-of-home locations such as bars and restaurants will be released on Tuesday.
TV viewership of many awards ceremonies has dropped in recent years.
Oscars producers tried a new format this year with three hosts and less time allotted to awards for sound mixing and other film craft categories.
The most talked-about moment of the night occurred when Smith slapped presenter Rock’s face on stage shortly before Smith was named best actor.
The audio from the show, broadcast on a time-delay of a few seconds in the United States, appeared to have been cut from the live transmission for many viewers because of the language.
But it was audible in some broadcasts, for example in Japan and Australia.
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