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Oscars audience dipped after Will Smith-Chris Rock incident

Social media exploded following incident with Will Smith and Chris Rock at the Oscars, but there's no indication it caused more people to tune in.

NEW YORK — Will Smith's violent slap of Chris Rock at the Academy Awards appeared to have a negligible impact on the show's television audience. But the world of social media is a much different story.

ABC said there were some 22.7 million social media interactions during Sunday's ceremony — the most ever for an Oscars telecast and more than double the 9.5 million recorded from last year's show.

What do you suppose everyone was tweeting or posting about?

The network says Oscar videos notched 16 million views on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube, also a record for the show. ABC does not have any details about what video clips were most popular, a spokeswoman said on Tuesday.

The telecast as a whole drew 16.6 million viewers, up 58% from the 2021 show that was dramatically scaled back due to the pandemic, the Nielsen company said. Yet this year's show was down 30% from the more typical 2020 broadcast, which had been the second-smallest audience.

Nielsen measures viewership in 15-minute increments, and the 17.3 million viewers during the quarter-hour when Smith's attack took place was virtually identical to the quarter-hour that followed.

Then the audience dipped to 16.8 million before rising to 17.4 million during the period Smith won his best actor award, Nielsen said.

Led by its NCAA men's basketball tourney coverage, CBS won the week with an average of 6.2 million in prime time. Despite boasting the Oscars, ABC was second with 5 million. NBC had 2.28 million, Fox had 2.27 million, Univision had 1.5 million, Ion Television had 1.1 million and Telemundo had 960,000.

TBS, also boosted by the NCAAs, led the cable networks with an average of 2.81 million in prime time. Fox News Channel had 2.47 million, MSNBC had 1.12 million, HGTV had 1.11 million and CNN had 876,000.

ABC's “World News Tonight” led the evening news ratings race with an average of 8.3 million viewers last week. NBC's “Nightly News” averaged 6.8 million and the “CBS Evening News” had 4.9 million.

For the week of March 21-27, the 20 most-watched programs in prime time, their networks and viewerships:

1. “The Academy Awards,” ABC, 16.62 million.

2. NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament: Arkansas vs. Duke, TBS, 10.34 million

3. NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament: St. Peter's vs. Purdue, CBS, 10.18 million.

4. NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament: North Carolina vs. UCLA, CBS, 8.82 million.

5. NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament: Texas Tech vs. Duke, CBS, 8.23 million.

6. NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament: Arkansas vs. Gonzaga, CBS, 8.16 million.

7. “NCAA Pregame” (Saturday), TBS, 8.04 million.

8. “FBI,” CBS, 8.02 million.

9. “NCAA Pregame” (Thursday), CBS, 7.93 million.

10. “Live From the Red Carpet” (7:27 to 8 p.m.), ABC, 7.73 million.

11. “NCAA Pregame” (Friday), CBS, 7.3 million.

12. “60 Minutes,” CBS, 7.29 million.

13. NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament: Houston vs. Villanova, TBS, 7.1 million.

14. “NCIS,” CBS, 6.65 million.

15. “FBI: International,” CBS, 6.11 million.

16. “FBI: Most Wanted,” CBS, 5.79 million.

17. “The Neighborhood,” CBS, 5.72 million.

18. “Live From the Red Carpet” (6:58 to 7:27 p.m.), ABC, 5.45 million.

19. “Bob Hearts Abishola,” CBS, 5.39 million.

20. “Survivor,” CBS, 5.35 million.

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