You liked it, you really liked it

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The Oscars are a winner -- at least compared with the record ratings low of last year's broadcast.

Sunday night's 81st Annual Academy Awards on ABC climbed 13 percent to 36.3 million viewers, according to Nielsen estimates. Viewership was up in all age groups, and the biggest increases were among men ages 18 to 34.

The advertiser-coveted audience of adults ages 18 to 49, at 16 million, also rose 13 percent. Among that group, the show was TV's top entertainment broadcast since last year's American Idol finale.

Though it's still the third-lowest-rated Oscars (second-lowest was 2003, the year "Chicago" won), viewers seem pleased with the changes producers Bill Condon and Laurence Mark made to the ceremony.

In an informal reader survey at life.usatoday.com, those who liked the show outweighed those who didn't more than 10 to 1. And more than 6,500 readers chimed in on their favorite parts of the show.

The top picks:
-- Having five iconic presenters for top acting categories: 29 percent
-- Host Hugh Jackman's opening skit and its homespun charm: 23 percent
-- Ben Stiller impersonating Joaquin Phoenix while presenting: 16 percent

A few days before the Oscars, Jackman was dancing around ratings expectations the same way he ultimately danced around the stage at the Kodak Theatre.

"I don't know," he said. "I hosted the Tonys three years in a row, and I believe I've presided over the lowest-rated Tonys ever. So I'm not going to be waking up at 4 in the morning asking."

Turns out he could have and not lost any sleep.


Gannett News Service

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