Ratings for the Academy Awards telecast in the nation's biggest television markets are up 7 percent over last year.
The Nielsen company said Monday that New York, Kansas City, Mo., and Chicago were the strongest markets for Sunday's telecast, where "12 Years a Slave" won the Academy Award for best picture.
Nielsen's estimate for how many people actually watched the show was expected later Monday. The Oscars are frequently the second most-watched television program of the year after the Super Bowl, with viewership topping 40 million people last year.
Overnight ratings in the nation's 56 biggest markets are only a partial picture, however, and sometimes not reflective of the country as a whole.
In her second time hosting, Ellen DeGeneres sought to make celebrities more like plain folk.
She passed out slices of pizza to the front rows at the Dolby Theatre, then passed the hat to pay for it. She also tweeted a "selfie" with such stars as Meryl Streep, Julie Roberts, Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Pitt and Nyong'o. The shot "made history," DeGeneres told the audience later. It's since been retweeted more than 2 million times.