LOS ANGELES – The Oscars were a ratings dud. More so than usual, even.
Preliminary ratings for the 80th annual Academy Awards telecast were 14 percent lower than the least-watched ceremony ever, according to Nielsen Media Research.
Nielsen said Monday that overnight ratings were also 21 percent lower than last year, when "The Departed" was named best picture.
The least-watched Oscars ceremony ever was in 2003, when there were 33 million viewers.
"No Country for Old Men" won best picture and best director this year.
Nielsen has no estimate yet on how many people watched Sunday night, but based on ratings from the nation's biggest markets, the Oscars will be hard-pressed to avoid an ignominious record.
The show had a 21.9 rating and 33 share.
Non-Americans — in this case, Europeans — took home all four of the major acting awards. British actor Daniel Day-Lewis and France's Marion Cotillard were best lead actor and actress. The supporting actor and actress prizes went to Spain's Javier Bardem and British actress Tilda Swinton.
The only other time in the Oscars' 80-year history that all four acting winners were foreign born was 1964.