Oscars still top draw for advertisers despite fickle ratings
By Eric Kelsey and Lisa Richwine
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The number of people who watched Sunday's Oscars was down and the critics were less than impressed, but Hollywood's biggest night is still a top draw for television advertisers.
This year's telecast - which producers believed could build off 2014's big audience of 43.7 million - attracted its lowest audience in six years and the oldest demographic ever with a median age of 53.
Despite a 15 percent drop in viewership to 37.3 million, however, it is still worth the price tag for advertisers and broadcaster ABC, analysts said.
"It's definitely a showcase place to be, and they (ABC) never have a problem selling it out year to year," said Steve Kalb, a director at ad agency Mullen.
This year's telecast hosted by actor Neil Patrick Harris commanded $1.9 million for 30 seconds of advertising time, up from last year's $1.76 million, the highest among awards shows.
Last year's Ellen DeGeneres-hosted ceremony reaped $95 million in ad revenue, according to Kantar Media. This year's figure is not yet available.
ABC pays $75 million annually to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for TV broadcast rights, said Brad Adgate, the research director at Horizon Media. The contract with Walt Disney Co's ABC and the Academy runs through 2020.
However, the search for a way to attract the younger viewers that advertisers prize most leads many to believe the Academy might have to make long-term changes to the ceremony. Continued...