NEW YORK — Early indications are that an Academy Awards telecast where "The Hurt Locker" topped the popular "Avatar" for best picture was popular with viewers.
The Nielsen Co.'s overnight measurement of the nation's 56 biggest markets gave ABC's Sunday telecast a 26.5 rating and 40 audience share. That's a 14 percent increase over the same rating for last year's telecast, when "Slumdog Millionaire" was named best picture.
Nielsen is expected to give an estimate of the audience size later Monday. Last year's telecast was seen by 36.3 million people. Each rating point represents 1,149,000 households, and the share means that 40 percent of the televisions being used at the time were tuned into the Oscars.
The metered market ratings aren't completely comparable to past years since Nielsen is using digital video recording data for the first time. Anyone who recorded the Oscars and started watching them a little later — either because they weren't home on time or wanted to avoid commercials — are counted this year and in previous years they weren't.
Ratings for the New York market seemed unaffected by a business dispute between Cablevision and ABC's parent Walt Disney Co.
ABC had been dropped by Cablevision for its 3.1 million subscribers in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut on Sunday, and the network was not restored until 13 minutes after the Academy Awards telecast began.
The Oscars had a 29.4 rating in the New York market, Nielsen said. That was 11 percent above the average for other big cities and No. 13 among those cities.