According to a CTV release Monday, an average 5,889,000 Canadians watched the 82nd Annual Academy Awards (based on BBM Canada overnight estimates). The enormous leap over last year’s Oscar number–almost a one-third jump–is the latest evidence that the new Portable People Meters are like rocket fuel for live, big event programming in Canada.
All those viewers had to sit through three-plus hours of boring crap to see The Hurt Locker named Best Picture of the year. With big box office hits like Avatar and Star Trek also in the running, the Oscars were up in the U.S., too, but only by about 8% among 18-49-year-old viewers. ABC averaged 41.3 million viewers for the three-and-a-half hour broadcast, the biggest Oscar audience Stateside in five years.
You have to go back a dozen years–to Titanic‘s win at the 1998 Oscars–to find a higher-rated Oscar telecast in Canada. CTV promoted the hell out of the Oscars during their record-smashing Olympic ratings run, which had to be a factor.
CTV also scored with their Oscar red carpet pre-show (3,678,000 viewers) as well as with an episode Sunday of The Amazing Race (1,464,000), which edged a strong final Oscar outing by Barbara Walters on Global (1,265,000). Walters went out on top in the U.S., too, drawing 20.97 million on ABC, almost doubling her 2009 Oscar special audience.
All that Olympic hype gave CTV’s new police drama The Bridge (starring Aaron Douglas, left) a decent if not spectacular start Friday night, with an estimated 998,000 tuning in. While that’s a respectable number for a Friday night and one any other Canadian broadcaster would celebrate, it is a far cry from the 1.9 million CTV’s two new Monday comedies, Hiccups and Dan For Mayor, drew last week in their premieres. It is also a steep drop from the 1.7- to 1.8 million CTV was scoring with its other CBS cop-co-production, Flashpoint, out of simulcast in the same timeslot last fall.
While The Bridge is a well made show (look for a review here next week when I’m back from the road), those constant CTV Olympic promos may have actually hurt its launch. Shots of Douglas hollering like a possessed demon may have frightened off some. The police union drama also a harder conceptual sell to viewers who may think the title refers to some actual bridge or is about dental work.
The Bridge did win its timeslot Friday, beating Shark Tank (536,000) and Numb3rs (788,000) on Global and The Fifth Estate on CBC (614,000).

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