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The number of viewers who turned in for the three-hour, 18-minute ceremony hosted by actor Neil Patrick Harris at the Dolby Theatre was 14.9 percent smaller than it was last year, if preliminary figures hold.
Ellen DeGeneres hosted the 2014 ceremony, which averaged 43.7 million viewers -- the largest audience for an Oscars telecast since 2004 and of any television entertainment program since the May 2004 finale of the NBC's "Friends'' averaged 52.5 million viewers.
Oscar viewership increased each of the previous three years before this year.
Despite the decrease, the audience was still the largest for an entertainment program since last year's Academy Awards telecast. The Oscars are traditionally television's most-watched entertainment program of the year.
According to Nielsen figures, 63 million people watched at least six minutes of the Sunday night telecast, down 12.1 percent from last year's 71.7 million.
Final figures are scheduled to be released Tuesday, but are not expected to change significantly from those released Monday.
The most-watched Academy Awards ceremony was in 1998, when an average of 55.25 million watched then-box office record-setter "Titanic'' win best picture honors and actor Billy Crystal was the host.
Individual viewership figures began being kept in 1974.
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