Oscar Night the Lowest Rated in History

02/25/2008 at 02:15 PM EST

Oscar Night the Lowest Rated in History
Jon Stewart
Mark J. Terrill/AP
Living up to the dire expectations, Sunday night's Academy Awards scored embarrassingly low preliminary ratings – 14 percent lower than the least-watched ceremony ever, according to Nielsen Media Research.

On Monday, the audience-measuring service announced that the overnight ratings were 21 percent lower than last year, when The Departed won the Best Picture award, the Associated Press reports.

The previous least-watched Oscars ceremony was in 2003, when only 33 million viewers tuned in.

Nielsen still does not have an estimate on Sunday night's viewership, but based on the early reports from the top American markets – resulting in a 21.9 rating and 33 share – this is likely to have been the biggest dud in the 80-year history of the Oscars.
Stephen M. Silverman

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