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Strong start for Oscar telecast in ratings

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March 3, 2014 12:38 PM EST | AP

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NEW YORK (AP) — Ratings for the Academy Awards telecast in the nation's biggest television markets are up 7 percent over last year.

The Nielsen company said Monday that New York, Kansas City, Mo., and Chicago were the strongest markets for Sunday's telecast, where "12 Years a Slave" won the Academy Award for best picture.

Nielsen's estimate for how many people actually watched the show was expected later Monday. The Oscars are frequently the second most-watched television program of the year after the Super Bowl, with viewership topping 40 million people last year.

Overnight ratings in the nation's 56 biggest markets are only a partial picture, however, and sometimes not reflective of the country as a whole.