ABC has sold out its advertising inventory for its March 2 broadcast of the Academy Awards, according to media buyers and other people familiar with negotiations for the event, and has been seeking what appear to be record prices. Ad buyers said the network has sought between $1.8 million and $1.9 million for a 30-second ad berth for the kudocast hosted by Ellen DeGeneres.
Those figures would establish a new benchmark for Oscar ad coin. For this year’s telecast, ABC sought between $1.65 million and $1.8 million for a 30-second commercial. The previous high price for a commercial slot in the broadcast is $1.82 million in 2008. After that year, a recession and ratings stumbles tamped down demand for the glitzy showcase, which commanded only around $1.3 million for a 30-second slot in 2009.
Demand by advertisers for the event has been growing in the past two years. ABC worked until just before Christmas in 2012 to sell out inventory for the 2013 broadcast. But the 2014 appears to have hit the sell out point a few weeks ago, according to one person familiar with the pace of sales. ABC declined to make executives available for comment. The 2012 telecast generated around $82.1 million in ad spending, according to Kantar Media.
Like the NFL does with the Super Bowl, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences limits the amount of advertising allowed to run with the Oscars broadcast. The show averages between nine and 10 minutes of national ad messages per hour, according to Kantar. By contrast, the Grammy Awards have run with as much 14 minutes per hour.
Ratings may be giving the ad price for the show a boost. The Oscars that was hosted by Seth MacFarlane in 2013, attracted an average viewership of 40.3 million viewers, according to Nielsen, an increase of about 3% from the 39.3 million who tuned in to see Billy Crystal host in 2012. More telling: The 2013 event notched a 20% increase among viewers between the ages of 18 and 49, the demographic most coveted by advertisers and a likely factor in the rise in ad costs for 2014.
Whether or not the ad prices stay at current levels remains to be seen, and is probably still dependent on the nominations mix in any given year. When the top movies nominated are arty films aimed at older audiences, viewership typically slumps. When the nominees for best films are blockbusters, the ratings increase.
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