Viewership for the Oscars on ABC grew by 511,000 viewers during the 15-minute time span that featured Will Smith slapping Chris Rock, according to Live + Same Day Nielsen data.
According to ‘Variety’, while the Oscars’ audience dipped from there, it spiked again during Smith’s best actor win and acceptance speech shortly after 11 p.m. ET, this time by 614,000 viewers.
The most-watched portion of the entire show was the 15 minutes between 9:15 p.m. and 9:29 p.m., which saw ‘CODA’ star Troy Kotsur win best supporting actor.
During the 94th Academy Awards telecast, Smith went on stage at the Dolby Theater and smacked Rock in the face after he made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s shaved head, referencing ‘G.I. Jane’.
He then screamed at Rock to “leave my wife’s name out of your f*****g mouth,” which was censored by broadcaster ABC in the US.
Pinkett Smith has previously said she suffers from alopecia.
Roughly 40 minutes later – and already 10 minutes over the expected 11 p.m. ET end to the awards show – Smith was named best actor for his portrayal of Richard Williams, the father of tennis greats Venus and Serena Williams, in ‘King Richard’.
He then took the stage again and gave a tearful five-minute acceptance speech, which included an apology to the Academy and to his fellow nominees – though he did not mention Rock, reports ‘Variety’.
“Love will make you do crazy things,” he said, adding, “To do what we do, you got to be able to take abuse. You got to be able to have people talk crazy about you. In this business you got to be able to have people disrespecting you.”
“And you got to smile, you got to pretend like that’s okay.”
On Monday, Smith released a statement apologising to Rock for the incident not long after The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced it had launched a formal review of Smith’s behaviour.
Overall, the 2022 Oscars drew 16.6 million total viewers, up 58 per cent from last year’s record-low audience of 10.5 million.