Oscars 2012: What time do the Academy Awards start on TV?
One of the most intense races of the 84th Academy Awards to watch this year doesn't involve nominees.
Earlier this month, the Grammy Awards scored their second-highest ratings ever (the shocking death of Whitney Houston the day before the show was a significant factor) and there was some real anxiety Sunday that -- for the first time -- the Oscars might finish second to its somewhat scruffier music-biz rival.
For context, consider that the 54th annual Grammy Awards on CBS finished with 39 million viewers this month, a number that would have topped the number posted by last year's Academy Awards, 37.6 million, when viewership was down 7% compared with the previous year.
On the red carpet, the topic of ratings was a senstive one for David Wild, the head writer for both the Grammys and also the 90-minute Oscar pre-show programming on ABC.
"I'm rooting for a tie," the writer said with an expression of pleading diplomacy. "I want an exact statistical tie. Everybody wins."
Still, plenty of pre-show coverage already is underway on numerous network and cable channels, and you can follow live coverage all night on the Envelope.
The ceremony, which will feature Billy Crystal as host and Cirque du Soleil performing at the Hollywood & Highland complex, begins about 90 minutes after the official "live" programming begins on ABC.
-- Geoff Boucher reporting from Hollywood & Highland
Photo: An Oscar statue at the entrance of the Hollywood & Highland Center before the 84th annual Academy Awards. Credit: Frazer Harrison / Getty Images