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ADVERTISING & MARKETING

Call It the Glamour Bowl

The Academy Awards' move to Sunday is a bid to boost what has always been a magnet for viewers, especially women.

March 18, 1999|GREG JOHNSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

"On Sunday night, there are a higher number of sets in use, so there will be more folks available to watch," said ABC's Goldsmith. "It will be interesting to see if we can raise the size of an audience already geared toward monumental proportions."

Networks like the stability that such shows as the Super Bowl and the Oscars bring because they usually know upfront what the ad market will bear. That's not the case when celebrities such as Michael Jordan share their secrets during interviews or viewers tune in to news specials tied to developments such as the Gulf War.

That's why ABC recently renewed its exclusive rights to the awards broadcast through 2008. It also agreed to limit its inventory of commercials to 10 minutes per hour, according to the Myers Report, to ensure that viewers aren't put off by too many interruptions in an already-lengthy show.

"The Oscars is one of the few TV events that can command a rate card," Mandese said. "It's got a built-in following of advertisers, so the network can pretty much dictate its terms. But something like a Lewinsky interview or news event is unpredictable because you can't be sure of the ratings upfront."

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Titanic Aspirations?

"Titanic" mania pushed TV ratings for last year's Academy Awards broadcast to a record high. This year, the ceremony is shifting to Sunday night from Monday in a bid to raise viewership. ABC has broadcast the awards program since 1976.

*--*

Number of viewers Best Year Rating* Share* (in millions) picture 1988 29.4 49% 42.2 "The Last Emperor" 1989 29.8 50 42.6 "Rain Man" 1990 27.9 48 40.3 "Driving Miss Daisy" 1991 28.4 46 42.7 "Dances With Wolves" 1992 29.8 50 44.4 "The Silence of the Lambs" 1993 31.2 51 45.7 "Unforgiven" 1994 31.3 49 45.1 "Schindler's List" 1995 32.5 53 48.3 "Forrest Gump" 1996 30.3 50 44.8 "Braveheart" 1997 27.4 46 30.5 "The English Patient" 1998 34.9 55 55.2 "Titanic"

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* The rating is the estimated size of the audience compared with the universe of available viewers, expressed as a percentage. The share is the percentage of actual viewers tuned to a specific program.

Source: Nielsen Media Research

Time and Money

The last episode of "Seinfeld," broadcast in May 1998, was one of the few programs to surpass the Super Bowl as the most expensive 30-second buy on television. However, analysts say network claims for rates are often exaggerated. Prices for a 30-second spot, according to industry sources and published reports:

* Final "Seinfeld": $2 million

* 1999 Super Bowl: $1.6 million

* 1999 Academy Awards: $1 million

* 1999 Barbara Walters interview of Monica Lewinsky on "20/20": $800,000

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