Originally posted at 2:52 p.m. March 3, 2014. Edited to fix typo.
ABC's Oscars telecast was the most watched since 2004, with an average of 43 million viewers tuning in, according to preliminary figures released today by Nielsen.
The audience for the 3 1/2-hour ceremony hosted by talk show host Ellen DeGeneres on Sunday was also the largest for any television entertainment program since the finale of the NBC comedy "Friends" on May 6, 2004, which averaged 52.5 million viewers.
It was the third consecutive year of increased viewership for the Academy Awards telecast.
Viewership was up 6.7 percent from the 40.3 million average for last year's telecast, which was hosted by producer-director Seth MacFarlane.
In addition, viewership among all viewers ages 18-34 and men in that age group was the highest for an Oscars telecast since 2007, while it was the most watched among viewers age 11 and under since 2006.
The number of viewers who watched at least six minutes of the telecast from the Dolby Theatre totaled 71.7 million.
Final figures are scheduled to be released Tuesday, but are not expected to change significantly from those released today.
Despite the three consecutive years of increasing viewership, Sunday's telecast was well short of the record 55.25 million set in 1998, when then-box office record-setter "Titanic" was named best picture. Individual viewership figures date to 1974.
Viewership for most forms of programming has decreased in recent years because of increased competition for viewers' attention from cable television, the Internet, viewing programming recorded earlier and video games.
--City News Service