Advertisers clamor for spots

High demand pushes Oscar TV ad rates up

NEW YORK — With advertisers clamoring for spots during Sunday night’s Oscarcast on ABC, prices for a 30-second ad during the big event are averaging between $1 million and $1.5 million, a 30% increase from last year’s rates.

ABC is expected to generate a record $60 million during the event, which ranks second only to the Super Bowl in ad rates. Spots during this year’s Super Bowl — which also aired on ABC — cost sponsors an average of $2.2 million.

“The Academy Awards and the Super Bowl are the two television events of the year that deliver, en masse, the otherwise elusive affluent viewer,” said Len Short, exec VP, advertising and brand management for Charles Schwab, which is premiering a new spot featuring Sally Field during this year’s awards.

Other advertisers include the Gap, Pepsi, Sony, Blockbuster, McDonald’s, American Express, Motorola and AT&T.

‘Titanic’ goal

The Academy Awards — traditionally the highest-rated entertainment event of the year — last year attracted an average of 46 million domestic viewers. Thanks to “Titanic,” 1998’s Academy Awards reached an all-time ratings high with an average of 55 million viewers domestically.

ABC, which has hosted the Oscars since 1976, is counting on better ratings this year thanks to the return of host Billy Crystal, who skipped last year’s telecast. The show should also benefit from a broader range of nominated pics with more recognizable celebs than last year.

Advertisers from last year get first dibs on spots for this year. “It’s an incumbent situation,” said ABC spokeswoman Susan Sewell. To drive competition for spots even further, advertisers are allotted two Academy Awards tickets per 30 second spot.

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