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Oscar gold: Academy aims for younger audiences

Advertisers have spent nearly $720 million during the last decade to advertise their products in the Academy Awards telecast, according to an analysis released Monday by Kantar Media.

That comes out to an average of $72 million a year, although three years -- 2006, 2007 and 2008 -- saw spending levels top $80 million. The total haul is important to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences because the organization relies heavily on ad revenue from the telecast to finance its operations and stage Hollywood's annual glitzy gala, including the Governors Ball. 

JamesFrancoOscar ABC is on track to bring in more than $80 million in commercial sales for this year's event, which will be broadcast Feb. 27.  The Walt Disney Co.  network has sold out its available inventory for the program and fetched prices of about $1.7 million per 30-second spot.  That's up considerably from last year's $1.4 million per spot.

Last year's higher ratings -- an average of nearly 42 million people tuned in -- helped ABC bump up the ad rates this year.

Over the last five years, more than half the total ad revenue from the show has come from just five companies: Coca-Cola, J.C. Penney, General Motors, American Express and Mastercard International, Kantar said. Auto giant GM took itself out of the running two years ago and was promptly replaced by Hyundai, which continues to be the exclusive auto sponsor -- and the program's largest advertiser overall.

This year's hosts -- James Franco and Anne Hathaway -- are part of the Academy's campaign to attract more young adults to the TV screen.  The median age of last year's Oscar audience was 50, according to Kantar, and that's slightly grayer than advertisers would like.

In another bid to attract young viewers and whip up excitement surrounding the awards show, the Academy this year has amped up its interactive media elements, such as Internet coverage of red carpet arrivals and peeks at backstage areas, including press-room interviews with winners. 

-- Meg James

Photo: Awards show host James Franco arrives at last week's nominees luncheon in advance of the 83rd Annual Academy Awards. Credit: Mike Nelson/EPA

 
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