(Los Angeles) Oscars viewership rose for the second year in a row, with 18.7 million viewers watching the triumphant live comedy Everything Everywhere All At Once, ABC television reported on Monday.

This represents a 12% increase from last year’s ceremony, during which Will Smith made headlines by slapping comedian Chris Rock on stage.

The rebound is therefore continuing slowly for the Oscars, which hit rock bottom during the pandemic.

In 2021, the audience had collapsed by more than half during a minimalist ceremony marked by health restrictions, to reach a historic low with only 9.85 million viewers.

This year, the return of comedian Jimmy Kimmel, a sure bet as master of ceremonies, and the presence of an innovative film like Everything Everywhere All At Once alongside true blockbusters like Top Gun: Maverick and Avatar: The Way of Water , raised hopes of renewed interest in the Oscars.

This bullish trend is good news for organizers. Because for years, award ceremonies have struggled to generate as much attention as before, in the face of competition from streaming platforms and social networks.

Sunday’s audience, however, remains the third lowest in the history of the ceremony.

The evening, which featured musical performances from Rihanna and Lady Gaga, was generally acclaimed by critics.

The absence of onstage violence made it possible to focus on the many touching speeches of tearful winners. The Everything Everywhere All At Once stars, who scooped up three of the four actor statuettes, seemed genuinely overjoyed with their awards.

The Hollywood Reporter thus salutes an edition “fortunately not very drama-laden, but very moving”. Similarly, Variety magazine found the show “tasteful”.

But the complete lack of surprises didn’t sit well with The New York Times. The daily yawns in front of a ceremony reduced to “a trivial exercise” which “scrupulously adhered to the script”.

The ceremony turned into a triumph for Everything Everywhere All At Once, rewarded with seven Oscars, including those for best film and best actress for its star Michelle Yeoh.

The figures released by ABC on Monday are preliminary. The final hearings are to be released on Tuesday.