(REUTERS) – The US television audience for the first hostless broadcast of the Academy Awards in 30 years rose from a year ago, preliminary Nielsen data showed, according to The Hollywood Reporter and Deadline Hollywood.

Details had been scant about the ceremony broadcast on Walt Disney Co’s ABC, which also dispensed with its traditional opening monologue skewering celebrities and politicians, bringing a curiosity factor to the final and biggest awards show of the season.

Comedian Kevin Hart withdrew from the host job in December after past homophobic tweets resurfaced. It was only the second time the show went without a host in its 91-year history.

The 2019 Oscars were a win for films telling stories from a range of racial and cultural perspectives, marking a major shift three years after the movie industry’s top awards show was slammed for overlooking work by nonwhite artists.

Television viewership has been declining as audiences migrate to streaming options. The Nielsen data does not include viewing of the Oscars on digital and mobile platforms. Updated numbers will be released later on Monday (Feb 25).

Advertisers covet live audiences because they are more likely to view commercials than those watching recorded content. ABC owns broadcast rights for the Oscars through 2028.

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