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Oscars 2012: Billy Crystal telecast is flat (but doesn't slip) among young adults

February 27, 2012 | 12:20 pm

Maybe the Justin Bieber stunt worked for Billy Crystal.

Sunday's Oscar telecast delivered a total of 39.3 million viewers, up 4% compared with last year, according to Nielsen. And it was flat in the demographic advertisers care about most, adults ages 18 to 49, with an 11.7 rating.

That may not sound world-beating, but it counts as a victory for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, which rolled the dice by bringing back the 63-year-old host Billy Crystal as host. The academy has been struggling for years with an exodus of young viewers from the annual awards telecast, which it counts on for crucial licensing income. Critics said that hiring a sexagenarian host didn't exactly help project an image of youthfulness. In a filmed bit that opened the show, Crystal alluded to the dilemma by greeting teen idol Bieber, who said he was there to help capture "the 18 to 24 demographic."

Photos: Red carpet | Winners | Quotes | Show | Backstage | Best & worst | More photos

Those industry worries didn't seem to faze the audience, which tuned in to watch "The Artist" take the top prize as Best Picture. ABC estimated that 76 million viewers watched at least six minutes of the broadcast.

In an interesting sidelight, ABC also said that its Oscar app was downloaded 370,000 times this year -- an 1154% leap compared with last year.

What did you think of the show?


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-- Scott Collins

Photo: Billy Crystal serenades director Martin Scorsese at Sunday's Oscars. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times