Skip to main content

Spotlight's on Oscars But for ABC, Ratings Wins Begin on Red Carpet

The 85th annual Academy Awards telecast on ABC on Sunday night might be sold out
for advertisers, but marketers who still want to get squeezed in at the last
minute shouldn't dismiss The Oscars Red
Carpet Live
show from 7-8:30 p.m. that will precede the awards.

ABC insiders say the
Red Carpet show is also just about
sold out, but unlike the Awards telecast, which has a limit on the amount of
commercials that can run, the Red Carpet
pre-show coverage has no such limit, meaning the network could accommodate last-minute
advertisers who wanted to drop some dollars there.

Last year's Red Carpet
show averaged 18 million viewers and a 4.3 18-49 rating; however, the audience
grew sizably over each half-hour leading up to the awards telecast, according
to Nielsen data.

From 7-7:30 p.m., an average of 12.6 million viewers tuned
in with an 18-49 demo rating of 2.8. From 7:30-8 p.m., the audience grew to
16.6 million viewers and a 4.0 18-49 rating. And between 8-8:30 p.m.,
viewership averaged 24 million and a 6.2 18-49 demo rating.

In 2011, the ratings for the Red Carpet half hours were: 7-7:30, 12.1 million viewers and a 2.7
18-49 rating; 7:30-8, 16 million viewers and a 3.9 18-49 rating; and 8-8:30
p.m., 26.6 million viewers and a 7.3 18-49 demo rating. That adds up to a
cumulative average of 18.2 million viewers and a 4.6 18-49 rating.

The ratings for both years were fairly consistent, much like
the Awards telecasts themselves, which drew 39.3 million and an 11.7 18-49
rating in 2012 and 37.9 million and an 11.8 demo rating in 2011.

However, pricing for the Red
show is clearly much lower, depending on which half-hour the
commercials appear in. Pricing for a 30-second spot in the Academy Awards show has averaged about $1.7 million this year,
according to various reports. The highest prices for commercial time in the Red Carpet show's third half-hour were
under $1 million.

The ABC Red Carpet
show clearly highlights the difference between the mass audience reach
of broadcast for big events vs. cable. E!'s highly touted and popular Live From the Red Carpet, which airs for
three hours, the last of which competes head-to-head with ABC's Red Carpet show, averaged a record for
the network of four million viewers last year.

This year's ABC Red
telecast will be cohosted by Kristin Chenoweth, Lara Spencer of ABC's
Good Morning America, singer Kelly Rowland and journalist Jess Cagle.

The Oscar telecast will be hosted by Seth MacFarlane, who
co-wrote, produced and directed the movie Ted, and is creator of the Fox
animated series Family Guy, and co-creator of American Dad and TheClevelandShow.

Advertisers in the sold-out telecast include: American
Express, Ameriprise, Blue Diamond, Coca-Cola, Coldwell Banker, Fox, Hyundai, J.C.
Penney, McDonald's, Royal Caribbean, Samsung, Sprint, Stella Artois and
University of Phoenix.

According to Kantar Media, the largest ad spender in last
year's Academy Awards telecast was Hyundai, with three minutes and 30 seconds
of commercial time at a cost of $11.3 million. Next was J.C. Penney with three
minutes of commercials at a cost of $9.7 million. Hyundai has been the
exclusive auto advertiser in the telecast since 2009 and J.C. Penney has
advertised in every Oscar telecast since 2002.

Other top advertisers last year included Coca-Cola with two
minutes and 30 seconds of commercials at a cost of $8.1 million, and American
Express with two minutes of commercials at a cost of $6.4 million.

American Express has advertised in the telecast since 1993
and McDonald's has advertised in every one since 1992, according to Kantar.

Last year's telecast included 21 advertisers with six first-timers
that included Citigroup, Google, Hulu and MetLife.

Kantar reports that eight advertisers who ran commercials in
the 2012 Super Bowl were among the 21 advertisers to run spots in the Academy
Awards telecast. The research firm says dual advertisers this year will include
Coca-Cola, Hyundai, Procter & Gamble and Samsung.

Kantar says the Academy Awards on ABC are a better buy for
advertisers than the Grammy Awards on CBS for those marketers looking for less
commercial clutter. Since 2008, Kantar data shows that the Academy Awards
telecast has averaged nine minutes and 16 seconds of commercial time per hour,
compared to 14 minutes and 18 seconds of commercials per hour for the Grammy

That, however, is not due to the generosity of ABC, but of
the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, which sets a limit on the
amount of commercial time in the telecast when it awards the TV rights to a
particular network. ABC has been that network since 1976.

The largest audience for an Academy Awards
telecast came in 1998 on ABC, when Titanic won best picture and 55.2
million viewers tuned in. According to Nielsen data, the others in the top 10
most-watched Academy Awards telecasts in order are: 1993 (ABC), best picture Gandhi,
53.2 million viewers; 1980 (ABC), Kramer vs. Kramer, 49 million; 1978
(ABC), Annie Hall, 46.5 million; 1995 (ABC), Forrest Gump, 48.3
million; 1975 (NBC), The Godfather, Part II, 48.1 million; 1976 (ABC), One
Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
, 46.8 million; 2000 (ABC), American Beauty,
46.3 million; 1979 (ABC), The Deer Hunter, 46.3 million; and 1982 (ABC),
Chariots of Fire, 46.2 million.