Magazine Shows Get Social To Lure Oscars Viewers

Hollywood has always gotten a bad rap for being selfabsorbed, and this year’s selfie obsession during the Oscars probably only added fuel to that fire.

That’s OK: Those selfies served to extend the Oscars’ TV life well beyond the four-hour live broadcast, making the awards extravaganza a win for all involved.

Starting in Hollywood early on Sunday, March 2, TV’s syndicated magazines—CBS Television Distribution’s Entertainment Tonight, Inside Edition and The Insider, NBCUniversal’s Access Hollywood and Warner Bros.’ Extra and TMZ—made the most of social media, selfies and Samsung to engage with fans from the minute the first gilded toe hit the red carpet until the last champagne glass was rinsed and put away.

All six of the magazines were well up for Monday, March 3’s post-Oscars episodes compared to their full-month March 2013 ratings averages. Warner Bros.’ Extra improved the most in households, up 42% to a 2.7 rating/5 share household average in the weighted metered markets, according to Nielsen. Extra also improved its numbers among women 25-54 by 55% to a 1.7/6 on March 3 compared to all of last March.

“We respect that our viewers sat through at least a portion of a four-hour show,” says Lisa Gregorisch-Dempsey, Extra senior executive producer. “I always want to move our coverage past the broadcast to what happened next: who’s kissing at the parties, juicy tidbits like that.”

Extra went big with two Oscars themes that played out across the Internet: selfies and photobombs. Oscars host Ellen Degeneres’ selfie that included such Hollywood heavyweights as Meryl Streep, Jennifer Lawrence, Julia Roberts, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie set a Twitter record with more than 2.7 million retweets. And Sherlock’s Benedict Cumberbatch, also a member of the cast of best picture 12 Years a Slave, became a trending topic when he photobombed an otherwise staid shot of Oscar-nominated band U2.

Extra is the only syndicated magazine to see growth over the past three years. Averaging a 1.7 in households and a 1.0 among women 25-54 this season to date, Extra is up 13% since last year in households and up 11% among women 25- 54. Compared to two years ago, Extra is up 6% in households and flat in the demo.

On March 3, ET gained the most in the key female demo, up 67% to a 2.5/7 compared to full-month March 2013. In households, ET gained 40% to a 4.9/8.

“The Oscars is the Super Bowl to us,” says ET executive producer DJ Petroro. “Since we are the industry leaders, our goal is to surround ourselves with other leaders.”

Ireland Baldwin, daughter of Alec Baldwin and Kim Baysinger, led ET’s social media efforts on the red carpet, while Joe Zee, creative director of Elle magazine, and Sharon Osbourne commented on all things fashion.

Access Hollywood jumped on the selfie trend early, with host Billy Bush sending out selfies with all the stars. On March 3, Access Hollywood closed its show with several of these photos accompanied by the song “#SELFIE” by the Chainsmokers.

Fashion Statements

Access also dedicated nine minutes of its 22-minute show to style, making the most of guest analysts Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski, who also made a splash for NBC during the Olympics. Fashion expert Louise Roe filled out Access’ style team.

“The big thing you have to do differently is that you really have to advance the story and have things that no one else has,” says Rob Silverstein, Access executive producer. The show was up 38% in households and 43% in the demo on March 3 compared to March 2013.

“We are having so much fun really playing with this idea of what it is to be social,” says Brad Bessey, executive producer of The Insider, which extended its social media coverage through the week leading up to the Oscars. “Making sure that the audience is really hearing their voice in the show is a fun conversation to have.”

To differentiate itself, The Insider hosted the Vanity Fair Social Club at The WeWork collaborative office space in Hollywood. The Insider flew in 40 social media influencers and had them tweeting and posting pictures on Instagram.

“Ultimately, these magazine shows have to evolve and reach the entertainment audience where they want to get their content, and a lot of that is social media,” Bessey says. “I have an obligation to this community of people to connect with them and be in dialogue with them.”

Paige Albiniak

Contributing editor Paige Albiniak has been covering the business of television for nearly 25 years. She is a longtime contributor to Next TV, Broadcasting + Cable and Multichannel News. She concurrently serves as editorial director for entertainment marketing association Promax. She has written for such publications as TVNewsCheck, The New York Post, Variety, CBS Watch and more. Albiniak was B+C’s Los Angeles bureau chief from September 2002 to 2004, and an associate editor covering Congress and lobbying for the magazine in Washington, D.C., from January 1997-September 2002.