2014 Oscars Ratings Impress With 43 Million Viewers

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LUPITA NYONGO MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 02: (L-R) Actors Matthew McConaughey winner of Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role, Cate Blanchett winner of Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role, Lupita Nyong'o winner of Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role and Jared Leto winner of Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role pose in the press room at the 86th annual Academy Awards at Dolby Theatre on March 2, 2014 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/WireImage) | Jason LaVeris via Getty Images

NEW YORK (AP) — An estimated 43 million people watched the Academy Awards, the most-watched audience for the show in a decade and most popular entertainment event on television since the "Friends" finale in 2004.

The Nielsen company said Monday that Oscar viewership was up for the third straight year and is considered yet another example of how social media is helping to drive up the ratings for big television events. The Oscars last year were seen by 40.4 million people.

Ellen DeGeneres was host of the Academy Awards for a second time, replacing the edgy Seth MacFarlane, who had the job last year.

The Oscars, which aired Sunday, are usually the second most-watched television program of the year in the United States, after the Super Bowl.

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