The 2014 Oscars Ratings Hit a 10 Year High, Is Ellen DeGeneres to Thank?

BySamantha Rullo

Thanks to her epic Oscars selfie, Ellen DeGeneres set a record for the most retweets ever, and actually crashed Twitter for a few minutes. Now it turns out the host broke another kind of record, as this year's Oscars received the highest ratings of any non-sports program in 10 years. 43 million viewers tuned in to the awards ceremony, where they go to see Ellen use her signature brand of nice humor as 12 Years A Slave, Dallas Buyers Club and Gravity swept the categories.

To put that 43 million in perspective, the last non-sports broadcast to score that large an audience was the series finale of Friends in 2004. The last Oscars broadcast to score that high was also in 2004, when Billy Crystal hosted and earned only a half a million more. So was Ellen the secret to a more successful Oscars all along?

The last time she hosted was in 2007 and the ratings were just over 40 million. However, Ellen's popularity seems to have increased since then as her talk show drew its largest audience ever this past December. It seems like Ellen really proved herself in 2007, and was able to reclaim that audience while drawing in some new fans.

Then there's the nominated films to consider. Films with the most Oscar nominations don't usually coincide with the year's most commercially successful movies, but this year's pool was definitely an exception. The Wolf of Wall Street, Gravity, American Hustle and Captain Phillips all earned over $200 million at the box office, with Gravity making an impressive $700 million. The last time Ellen hosted, of the five Best Picture nominees only The Departed passed that $200 million mark, and not by much.

So when the Academy starts planning for next year's awards, they might want to think about what happened on Sunday. Ellen is a comedian known for her ability to be funny without being mean, who can also appeal to a wide variety of age groups. They're always trying to court that youth demographic with sometimes odd hosting choices, but Ellen scored the same 12.1 rating among viewers 18-49 as Seth MacFarlane did last year, while bringing in 3 million more total viewers.

So before trying to get another MacFarlane, or even worse, another Anne Hathaway/James Franco, the Oscars should look to hosts like Ellen, who pull in a huge audience and actually makes that audience laugh, without a cringe in sight.