Tweeting moms, Web cams. Oscar gets geeky

Thu Feb 24, 2011 6:20pm EST
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By Bob Tourtellotte

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - When Oscar organizers unveiled their promotional campaign, "You're Invited," they weren't kidding -- at least where Web audiences are concerned.

This year, more than ever, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has loaded up its Facebook page, Twitter account and website with ways people can watch the world's top film awards and all the festivities that take place around it.

The goal, Academy members say, is to make the glitzy Hollywood telecast feel more inclusive of everyday moviegoers and capture the attention of younger fans with one hand on their cellphone and the other on a laptop computer.

"We know that, more and more, people watching television are also engaging with some other device. We want that second device to have related, complementary content on it," said Ric Robertson, executive administrator at the Academy and the man behind the Oscar show's social media outreach.

"The idea is to pull back the curtain, and let viewers get a real sense of what Oscar night is," said Robertson.

It is no secret that in recent years, viewership has been eroding for the Oscars telecast, which is annually the second most popular TV show in the United States, as well as movies, in general. Younger audiences are finding more ways to entertain themselves -- social networking, video games, texting, etc. -- than going to movies.

The total number of tickets sold in U.S. and Canadian theaters fell 5 percent in 2010 to 1.34 billion. Box office revenues were flat compared to 2009 at $10.6 billion, and average movie ticket prices rose to $7.89 from $7.50

Where the Oscar telecast is concerned, last year's show was the most-watched in five years with just under 42 million viewers, but a large part of that was due to the popularity of best film nominee "Avatar," the biggest box office hit ever.   Continued...

<p>A man photographs an Oscar statuette using his phone at the "Meet the Oscars" exhibit at Grand Central Station in New York February 23, 2011. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid</p>