NEW YORK (AP) A preliminary measurement of the nation's biggest markets shows ratings for this year's Academy Awards went up 6 percent over last year, yet the telecast is still likely to be among the three least-watched Oscars ever.

Nielsen Media Research says its estimate of the Oscar audience's size will come later Monday. Last year's audience of 32 million was the smallest ever measured for an Oscar telecast.

Last year and in 2003, when "Chicago" won best picture before 33 million viewers, are the low-water marks for the annual show.

New York, Chicago and Los Angeles were the markets with the highest Oscar ratings Sunday.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.