The dust has barely settled from the turmoil that last week engulfed the Academy Awards cermonies for 2012, and word is out that ABC is asking from $1.6 million-$1.7 million for 30 seconds of ad time during the 2012 telecast. That’s about the same as or a bit less than the $1.7 million the network sought for the same amount of time for the 2011 show. The commotion over the departures of producer Brett Ratner and host Eddie Murphy had little to do with pricing, which was established weeks ago according to Ad Age’s MediaWorks blog. Brian Grazer and Billy Crystal quickly filled those slots. Back in 2009, prices for Oscar ads dropped to about $1.3 million because of the recession, ratings performance and other factors. Current asking prices haven’t fully restored Oscar’s luster to 2008 levels when 30 seconds of time went for about $1.8 million.
The 2012 asking price suggests that ratings for the prior year don’t seem to have deterred potential sponsors. Roughly 37.9 million viewers tuned in to see The King’s Speech take Best Picture during ABC’s 2011 Oscarcast, while about 41.7 million tuned in for the 2010 show when The Hurt Locker beat Avatar. Viewership for the Oscars dipped as low as 32 million in 2008 when No Country For Old Men was named Best Picture — a significant drop from 38.9 million during the 2007 telecast that saw The Departed take Best Picture. Back in 1998, 55 million tuned in to watch Titanic win 10 Oscars including Best Picture. To open the competition to include more box office blockbusters — and perhaps boost ratings — the Academy expanded the number of Best Picture nominees to 10 from five for the 2010 telecast (awards calendar year 2009) which seems to have worked so far. The Oscars remain a big-ticket TV event that viewers watch live, but the awards show isn’t in the same league as the Super Bowl, which commanded between $2.5 million-$3 million for the 2010 broadcast on CBS to as high as $3.5 million for next year’s big game on NBC.