16 Years a Rave: 43 Million People Watched Ellen's 2014 Academy Awards Broadcast, Breaking 1998's Record (and the Internet)

By Ian Holubiak on Mar 07, 2014 06:03 AM EST

If you missed the Academy Awards ceremony on Sunday you, literally, may have been the only one. Oscars telecast ratings hit a 10-year high on March 2 with a 43 million-strong American viewership--it broke a Twitter record, too.

The 86th Academy Awards drew the biggest audience of any entertainment program since the finale of Friends in May 2004, according to the Nielsen rating service.

The three-hour-plus event averaged a 12.9 rating for adults aged 18-48, reads ABC's preliminary figures.

Ellen DeGeneres hosted for the second time this decade, in which she ordered a pizza, took a star-studded selfie and dissed the audience on more than one occasion.

Speaking of that selfie (which had 100,000 retweets in five minutes, over 2.8 million by the next day), it blew up feeds on all platforms, damn near breaking the entire social network.

"The show was trim, fleet, elegant, and organic, with few unnecessary bells and whistles; almost everything in it seemed to have a purpose," wrote Entertainment Weekly.

"[DeGeneres'] real achievement, though, was to make the prospect of an Oscar host roaming through--and interacting with--the celebrity audience feel, for the first time, like a relaxed, fun, and totally natural thing to do."

Critics lauded DeGeneres in lieu of last year's host, Seth MacFarlane, who got a bad wrap for some of his more irreverent humor.

Preceding the 2014 Oscars, the most watched Academy Awards was in 1998, with a 55.3 million American viewership (back when Titanic won 11 awards and Billy Crystal hosted).

No thanks to Jared Leto's acceptance speech--in which he told Ukrainians to, quote, "dream,"--this year's Oscars (at least in America) proved to be quite the success.

Now, if only we can get those other self-aggrandizing award shows to follow suit. 

To wit, here's ABC's own account of the Ellen's best moments.

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TagsOscars 2014, The Oscars, Jared Leto, ABC, Entertainment Weekly, Billy Crystal, Ellen DeGeneres, Seth MacFarlane, Friends

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