NEW YORK – The Academy Awards telecast, with Denzel Washington and Halle Berry winning top acting awards, drew a slightly larger television audience than last year's show, according to Nielsen Media Research.
The telecast drew a 30.0 rating and 46 audience share, according to Nielsen's preliminary measurement of 53 major media markets. That was a 2 percent increase from the major market measurement of 29.2/43 in 2001.
The final national Nielsen numbers are generally lower, since the Oscars are more popular in the big cities. Last year's 26.2 national rating was the lowest ever recorded for the Academy Awards.
"Anytime you go up in today's environment, it's a real positive," said Larry Hyams, ABC's chief of research. "This is always the highest-rated entertainment special of the year and it lived up to its potential."
Based on the preliminary ratings, Hyams estimated the Oscars drew an average of 46 million viewers. Just under 43 million people watched Gladiator win best picture in 2001.
A ratings point represents 1,055,000 households, or 1 percent of the nation's estimated 105.5 million TV homes. The share is the percentage of in-use televisions tuned to a given show.
The show's largest audience ever came in 1998, when 55 million people watched Titanic win a record-tying 11 Oscars, including best picture.
A Beautiful Mind won best picture Sunday night, with Washington and Berry winning the best actor and actress awards, respectively.