The Oscars saw an uptick in audience numbers following last year's award shows, but the numbers were still down from previous years.
The award show drew 13.73 million viewers and received a 2.9 rating among adults 18-49, based on fast national ratings from Nielsen. A more detailed estimate is expected Tuesday, with elements like out-of-home viewing added.
However, the preliminary numbers show a dramatic increase from the 2021 Oscars. The numbers for last year's show were the lowest ever with 10.4 million viewers and a 2.12 rating in the 18-49 demographic.
Sunday's Oscars show is still the second-least watched show for the Academy since the mid-1970's, when Nielsen began tracking the numbers. Prior to 2021, the show didn't have less than 20 million viewers.
During the award show, Will Smith slapped presenter Chris Rock in the face over a joke he made about Smith's wife Jada, stunning viewers and prompting the Academy to issue a statement saying it does not condone violence. The slap occurred about two-thirds of the way through the broadcast.
Nielsen did not immediately have more specific viewership numbers for Sunday's show, but the research company Samba TV said its own study did not indicate that the Smith-Rock incident had a significant affect on the audience size as the ceremony happened.
It's unclear what is causing the decline in ratings, although the 2021 show was impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Viewership for live television events, with the notable exception of NFL football games, has been declining for several years with the advent of streaming and cord-cutting. Some Hollywood observers believe that the relatively niche appeal of many films honored by the Oscars has also limited the audience.
Prior to the broadcast, the award show faced backlash after the Academy announced its plans to eliminate eight of its honors in an effort to streamline the floundering telecast, with some experts saying it was on "life support." Those eight awards were presented off-air.
In addition, this year's show was criticized over COVID-19 jokes, Amy Schumer's monologue, song choices and more.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.