Can ‘The Last of Us’ Finale Beat the Oscars in the Ratings? we crunch the numbers

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Fungal zombies are coming for the Oscars.

In a programming matchup that is sure to upset Sophie’s Choice for many TV viewers — and may cause some excitement among motion picture academy leaders — HBO’s post-apocalyptic hit series “The Last of Us” The finale is set for the same night as this year’s Academy Awards, March 12.

Yep, while HBO stepped up in honor of this Sunday’s Super Bowl by moving the upcoming fifth episode of “The Last of Us” to Friday, the network decided to go ahead and play with the Oscars.

So what happens you pit Hollywood’s biggest night against the climax of the most talked-about show of the year – other than maybe a few arguments over who’s got control over the remote? Which major TV entertainment program will come out on top?

Let’s crunch some numbers.

As everyone knows, ratings for the Oscars have been steadily declining over the years, as movies have been removed from the center of the cultural conversation and the entertainment landscape has become more fragmented than ever. last year’s oscars attracted an average of 15.4 million viewers, up 56% from the previous year’s pandemic-hit ratings disaster, but still the second-lowest viewership in the telecast’s history, and down from over 40 million just nine years earlier. Used to see

with handful of bona fide blockbusters In a best picture mix this year including “Top Gun: Maverick,” “Avatar: The Way of Water” and “Elvis,” Oscars insiders are hoping the show will attract more casual moviegoers who might otherwise go to see The performance can’t feel forced.

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The high-water mark for Oscar ratings — 55.3 million viewers, reached in 197 — came in a year dominated by James Cameron’s “Titanic,” the biggest box office hit of all time. For the first time, this year’s Best Picture race includes two films that topped $1 billion globally: Cameron’s “Avatar” sequel and “Top Gun: Maverick.”

Academy leaders who’ve tried everything from proposing (and then reneging) “Best Popular Film” Award to launch a Twitter-voted fan-favorite award As for the increase in viewership for the Oscars, there may be reason to be optimistic.

While ratings across the board for award shows are generally trending downward, sunday night grammy At an average of 12.4 million viewers, up 30% from last year, according to Nielsen, it was the most watched Grammy telecast since 2020.

If this year’s Oscars gets a similar size boost, it will attract roughly 20 million viewers. That would put it within striking distance of the 2020 prepandemic telecast, in which 23.6 million viewers tuned in to see “Parasite” as Best Picture.

As for “The Last of Us”, viewership has steadily increased since the series’ debut. strong review – and a heartwarming and much talked about third episode — continues to grow its audience greatly original video game fans,

According to the network, the series’ fourth episode on Sunday night pulled in 7.5 million viewers across linear broadcast and HBO Max streaming platforms, up 17% from episode 3 and 60% from the series’ debut in January.

If “The Last of Us” continues to grow at that rate, it’ll be picking up new fans like so many cordyceps-infected victims — and if the Oscars have an abysmal night, once again with a record-low audience of .8 million. There is tampering with the numbers. 2021 — Things could get interesting.

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Still, realistically speaking, “The Last of Us” won’t attract enough viewers to pose a real threat to the Oscars. The most-watched show in HBO history is the 201 series finale of “Game of Thrones,” which drew in 19.3 million viewers — a tally that took nine years to make for that series and one for “The Last of Us.” Us” in its debut season.

That said, while the Oscars will probably be able to claim a ratings win that evening, with “The Last of Us” available for delayed viewing via HBO Max, the total viewership of the series finale is the highest ever at the Academy Awards. may be above. Through its first few episodes, the show has averaged over 20 million viewers, including those who streamed it the week after it aired. As long as it remains on a broadcast network, the Oscars get just one shot to capture viewers as a live event before it becomes yesterday’s news.

Finally, the fact that an award show once claimed to attract a billion viewers globally (perhaps with some exaggeration) is significant, even with competition from cable series only. The need to concern itself shows how dramatically the landscape has changed.

This year the dead body cannot be found by them. But the Oscars aren’t out of the woods.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times,