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Oscars 2014: Most-watched entertainment telecast since 'Friends' finale

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The ratings for the Oscars continue to climb. Deadline reports that this year’s edition of the Oscar telecast pulled in 43.7 million total viewers, making it the “biggest non-sports audience since NBC’s 2004 Friends finale,” according to Entertainment Weekly.

Ratings for the 86th annual Academy Awards, hosted by comedian and talk show host Ellen Degeneres, were up 8% from last year’s show, when Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane hosted. Deadline also says that those numbers, an increase over yesterday's initial figures, make it “the most watched Academy Awards since 2000 when 46.53 million tuned in” to see Billy Crystal host for the seventh time and American Beauty took home the Oscar for Best Picture. Feels like a long time ago.

The ratings surge extended to the pre-show, Oscar’s Red Carpet Live, which pulled in 27.6 million viewers in its final half-hour, as well as Jimmy Kimmel’s post-awards show, which was up 22% and attracted 7 million viewers, the best ratings yet for the ninth annual Jimmy Kimmel Live: After the Oscars. Perhaps most impressively, EW says “there were 11.2 million tweets about the event, with overall Oscar social media activity outpacing last year by 75 percent.”

The massive rise in social media activity could be partly attributed to the show itself. At one point in the broadcast, Degeneres took a selfie with almost a dozen celebrities and posted it to Twitter, where it quickly became the most retweeted picture in the site’s history, and even caused a brief disruption in the service.

Despite the bump in ratings, critic’s reviews of the ceremony were decidedly mixed. Tim Goodman of The Hollywood Reporter called it “a turgid affair, badly directed, poorly produced” while Robert Bianco of USA Today claimed it was the “best Oscar broadcast since, well, the last time [Degeneres] hosted" in 2007.

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