Upcoming Academy Awards: Fewer Viewers, Higher Ad Rates, Less Clutter

February 19, 2008

This article is included in these additional categories:

Analytics, Automated & MarTech | Broadcast & Cable | Media & Entertainment | Sponsorships | Television | Women

Television audience numbers have declined over the past decade as viewing choices expand and the audience splinters – and the upcoming Academy Awards reflects that trend, with current audience levels 25% less than they were 10 years ago, according to TNS Media Intelligence.

Now that the writer’s strike is over, advertisers are nevertheless poised to capitalize on prime viewing time during the February 24 Academy Awards – often referred to as “the Super Bowl for women,” though the actual Super Bowl has fared better in household percentage ratings:


Ad rates for the Oscars have increased 75% over the past decade, reaching $1.67 million in 2007 for a :30 second spot, or about 35% less than the cost of the same spot during the Super Bowl.


Overall, marketers spent $651 million for ad time during the Academy Awards from 1998 to 2007, and total ad spend for 2007 ($80 million) is nearly double the amount spent in 1998.

Part of the appeal of the Academy Awards is the lack of ad clutter: Per hour…

  • Typical prime time network programming offers 14-15 minutes.
  • The Super Bowl offers 10.5-12.0 minutes.
  • The Academy Awards offers 9-10 minutes – and recently dropping to even lower levels: 8.05 minutes in 2007.


The Academy Awards, like the Super Bowl, has traditionally been dominated by blue-chip advertisers. The top 3 advertisers from 1998 to 2007 were General Motors ($97.1 million), Pepsi co ($60.7 million), and American Express ($60.5 million).

Other big advertisers and ad spend in millions:

  • JC Penney – $52.8
  • L’Oreal – $29
  • McDonalds – $28.8
  • Mastercard – $27.6
  • Coca-Cola – $24.6

Those 8 companies have accounted for over 60% of the total amount, with an aggregate spending of $381.2 million during the past 10 shows.

Retention for the Academy Awards is high: 75% of the yearly spend in the telecast has come from advertisers who bought time the previous year. (The Super Bowl retention rate is 63%.)


Overlap between these two events is also quite high. In the past 5 years, 21-41% of advertisers bought time in both events. TNS notes there is slightly less overlap during Winter Olympic years, as many big advertisers choose this option and forgo one of the other? two events.

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