First returns from ABC affiliates showed a 3% increase in viewership of last night's Oscars telecast over last year's numbers: 34.4 million viewers, up from 33.5 million. However, there was a 3% decrease in the 18 to 49 demo, which might be expected with 60-something Billy Crystal hosting.
In fact, Crystal was often mentioned as a key factor for critics' nearly universal thumbsdown of the show, garnering taunts like Alessandra Stanley's low blow in the New York Times: "The whole night looked like an AARP pep rally." Even those who weren't quite so cruel noted that the show seemed firmly stuck in the past (with Crystal, for example, recycling old, familiar bits) and incredibly self-reverential, featuring "montage after montage after montage that... seemed to have no theme beyond, 'Movies: Yay!'" according to Alan Sepinwall.
TV Guide's Matt Roush wrote "The show was so devoid of actual entertainment that bored wags began to follow instant Twitter accounts based on JLosNipple and AngiesRightLeg (nods to celebrity body parts creating a stir from the stage)."
Surprisingly, the ads got some good buzz. At least one critic noted that Ellen Degeneres' spots for JC Penney were funnier than any of Billy Crystal's jokes.