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Oscar Show’s TV Audience Dips To Second-Lowest Ever

About four times the number of people that have seen “The English Patient” at U.S. theaters watched the independent feature collect nine Academy Awards on TV Monday night.

But the lack of major-studio box-office blockbusters in this year’s competition apparently cost in terms of Oscar viewers. “The 69th Annual Academy Awards” broadcast was the second-lowest-rated in the trophy show’s history, down about 10 percent from last year, according to Nielsen Media Research. The lowest-rated Oscarcast was in 1986.

Monday’s Barbara Walters Oscar special, which has become a tradition on Oscar-hosting ABC, logged its lowest ratings ever. This year’s talker featured Harrison Ford, Lauren Bacall and Woody Harrelson.

An average of 40 million people watched Monday’s gala on ABC. The network was touting a figure of 73 million viewers, but that included anyone who tuned in to as little as five minutes of the three-hour, 38-minute broadcast.

Still, the Oscar gala will be the most-watched entertainment show of the season, as it is every year.