While two of the biggest advertisers have rotated out of ABC’s Academy Awards broadcast, many more blue-chip sponsors are returning to the Red Carpet.
As first reported by Adweek, General Motors is in the mix, having replaced Hyundai as the official automotive sponsor, as is Pepsi, which ousted rival Coca-Cola after an eight-year absence.
Despite the shakeups in the two big categories, there are still a good deal of familiar faces that are ready for their close-ups. JCPenney is back for its 13th year as a supporter of the Oscars, prepping “five or six” spots to air during the March 2 broadcast. Also back in the saddle is longtime sponsor American Express, which generally can be counted on to invest in at least two minutes of airtime.
Spots from 2013 standouts Coldwell Banker, McDonald’s and Sprint will also be seen during the ceremony, which will be hosted by Ellen DeGeneres. This year marks the comic’s second stint as the Oscars’ emcee; in 2007, DeGeneres oversaw a show that delivered 40.2 million viewers, of whom 63 percent were women.
In terms of duration, the 2007 Academy Awards were the longest in a decade, boasting a running time of three hours and 51 minutes.
ABC sold the last of its Academy Awards inventory earlier than it ever had before, closing on its final units just before Halloween. According to media buyers, the average 30-second spot in the broadcast fetched $1.85 million.
Over the last five years, ABC’s Oscars broadcast has averaged just under 40 million viewers. But reach alone does not entirely justify the expense of securing exposure in the event; because it’s a live show, the Oscars are practically DVR-proof. As such, viewers are far more likely to watch the ads, many of which they’ll be seeing for the first time.
There’s also the matter of audience composition. Per Nielsen, those who tune in to the Hollywood spectacle are upscale, highly educated consumers.
Moreover, there are relatively limited opportunities for sponsors, at least when the Oscars are compared to regular prime-time programming. ABC caps its ad load at around 9.25 minutes per hour, thereby offering slightly more than half the inventory available to a standard network drama.
If you subscribe to the theory that blockbusters drive Oscars deliveries, this year’s ceremony could put up huge numbers. One of the favorites to float away with the statuette for Best Picture, Gravity has rung up $264.4 million in domestic box office receipts. American Hustle has separated moviegoers from $134.3 million, while The Wolf of Wall Street has pocketed $104.6 million since its Christmas release.
That said, many oddsmakers believe a much smaller film has the inside track at Oscars gold. Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave has grossed $46.2 million stateside. At 1-to-3 odds, the film is the odds-on favorite to win Best Picture.