The 89th Annual Academy Awards is fast approaching. ABC’s live broadcast from the Dolby Theater is set to air Sunday, February 26th, with red carpet coverage beginning at 7 p.m. ET followed by the awards at 8:30 p.m.
This year’s Oscars, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, will highlight several factors that are expected to bode well for T.V ratings.
First, the speeches:
You can expect to see a continuation of star’s political broadsides. At the Screen Actors Guild awards, nearly every winner had something to say about immigration, religion or civil liberties. “It’s an irresistible platform, a worldwide platform,” says Pete Hammond, awards columnist for Deadline. Although viewers love to hate a mouthy Oscar winner, he says, they might also tune in just to see how far the stars will go.
The diversity issue:
After two years with zero non-white acting nominees (and a very long history with disproportionally few), which fashioned 2016’s ultimate Twitter hashtag #OscarsSoWhite, seven of the 20 nominees in this year’s Academy Awards are of color. In addition, a black actor has been nominated in every acting category for the very first year.
Two nominees are considered especially controversial this year: Best Actor nominee Casey Affleck—after two sexual harassment suits, which were settled in 2010, resurfaced in the news —and Best Director nominee Mel Gibson, whose nomination represents a Hollywood comeback after a domestic violence charge and a highly publicized anti-Semitic outburst.
Not to mention a Parker-Affleck double standard, the gender gap, and a foreign-language film controversy are also influencers that are fueling audiences to tune-in.
It is no surprise that TV advertising on Hollywood’s biggest night has sold out. The top price for a 30-second announcement improved around 7% to an average price around $2.1 million, according to analysts -- with a top price of around $2.5 million.
A year ago, the average price was around $1.9 million to $2 million, according to Kantar Media. With around 60 individual commercials in an estimated three-hour newscast, that will yield around $120 million in total national TV dollars for this year's show.
So what is the benefit for advertisers to shovel out such a hefty premium for one: 30-second commercial? It’s all about the eyeballs.
The expectation is for 34+MM US viewers, only second to the Superbowl. Even in down years, the Oscars remain the second-most watched TV event.
For example, last year, despite seeing the lowest audience in the past eight-years at 34.3 million viewers in the US, the awards finished as the biggest non-sports program on broadcast, underscoring its continued appeal to advertisers.
An increasingly fragmented media landscape makes opportunities for advertiser to reach a large and diverse audience particularly valuable.
Another factor is the expanding use of analytic techniques powered by big data, which enable marketers to identify and value high-quality audiences. In addition, the event generates strong second-screen engagement in social media, which is also attractive to marketers.
If this year’s Super Bowl advertising is any indication, advertisers are bound to experience a halo effect for many days after the show. On the day before the Super Bowl, 4% of adults reported that they would consider 84 Lumber the next time they were shopping for lumber products. On SuperBowl Sunday, 84 Lumbers controversial ad crashed their website. One week later, that number jumped to 11%.
Most recently, Bizreport researchers found that traffic into brick-and-mortar stores increased the week following the ads placed in Super Bowl LI. The biggest traffic increases were to mobile brands T-Mobile (11% traffic increase Week-over-Week) and Sprint (10% traffic increase WoW), but fast-food retailer Wendy's also saw significant traffic increases (10% WoW) as did auto brand Audi (7% WoW).
Online traffic also showed strong growth. Auto brand Alfa Romeo saw digital traffic increase more than 800%; it must be noted that prior to the Super Bowl the auto brand, based in Italy, didn't have a big digital footprint from the US.
How do advertisers engage this mass audience? It’s all about staying relevant.
For the SuperBowl, Airbnb bought a last-minute spot that came together in a matter of days showing people of different backgrounds, set to music, with text that read: “We believe no matter who you are, where you’re from, who you love, or who you worship, we all belong. The world is more beautiful the more you accept.” A hashtag at the end read #WeAccept, which went viral by halftime.
In addition, Audi’s equal-pay spot during the game provoked so much negative reaction online was itself controversial and thought-provoking. It goes to show that being provocative with purpose is very smart.
We can hope for at least as much chatter-worthy advertising during the Oscars from this year’s list of advertisers:
Diamond Producers Association
The New York Times
Walt Disney Studio