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Oscar TV audience rises to 40.3 million

Updated: 2013-02-26 13:29

Oscar TV audience rises to 40.3 million

An Oscar statue is pictured at the Governors Ball for the 85th Academy Awards in Hollywood, California February 24, 2013. [Photo/Agencies]

Sunday's Oscar ceremony scored the biggest TV audience in three years, and edgy new host Seth MacFarlane helped boost interest from young men, despite getting a mauling from TV critics.

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Nielsen ratings data on Monday showed that 40.3 million Americans watched the Academy Awards ceremony on ABC television, up three percent from 2012. ABC said it was the largest Oscar audience in three years.

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Boosted by a bumper box office crop of movies and intrigue over MacFarlane's debut as Oscar host, the show grew 11 percent in the 18-49 year-old audience most coveted by advertisers, and by 34 percent in 18-34 year-old men compared to 2012.

After a night of zingers about gays and Jews and risque jokes about female nudity, the man behind animated TV series "Family Guy" largely lived up to his own prophecy - at least judging by traditional media - that he could be deemed the worst host in Oscar history.

Rolling Stone writer Rob Sheffield said MacFarlane appeared like a "bumbling rookie" and "few ideas could have been stupider" than turning the Academy Awards into a "Seth MacFarlane variety special".

Special: 85th Oscar

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