ABC Made $72 Million on 26 Minutes of Oscar Ads

Pullouts by Longtime Sponsors Let New Brands Find Spots on Red Carpet

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CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- ABC sold 26 minutes of advertising time for about $72 million in its Feb. 22 Academy Awards broadcast, the most since 2004, according to TNS Media Intelligence.

Hyundai and Sprint Nextel were among those advertising for the first time alongside the Oscar winners, which this year included Kate Winslet, Sean Penn and Penelope Cruz.
Hyundai and Sprint Nextel were among those advertising for the first time alongside the Oscar winners, which this year included Kate Winslet, Sean Penn and Penelope Cruz. Credit: ABC
The high number of sales came despite General Motors and L'Oreal, two major sponsors, pulling out.

"This year's tumultuous economic climate was both a boon and a bane to ABC's Academy Awards telecast. While several major advertisers dropped out of this year's event, it allowed new brands to participate," said Dean DeBiase, CEO of TNS Media Intelligence. "Despite a challenging business climate and an overall downward trend in audience ratings, marketers understand the unique power of TV advertising for marquee events such as the Academy Awards."

With those advertisers withdrawn, Hyundai was the top sponsor, with eight commercial units taking up four and a half minutes. Coca-Cola and JC Penney also bought eight units; Coke had four minutes of ad time, and Penney had three and a half.

Hyundai was a first-time Oscar advertiser. Other newbies in the broadcast were Sprint Nextel, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Disney Touchstone Pictures, Hoover, Paramount Pictures and Maytag.

The Oscars allowed movie advertising for the first time this year.

ABC itself had six minutes and 20 seconds of network promos in the Oscars, up from five minutes and 40 seconds and the most since 2006.

The network dropped the price of a 30-second unit in the awards show to $1.4 million from between $1.65 million and $1.7 million, according to TNS, which estimated that last year's Oscars generated about $81 million.

The telecast drew more viewers than last year's show, but it still ranked as the third-least-watched Academy Awards. Nielsen ratings recorded a 13% jump in total viewers compared with the year before, to 36.3 million, and that was matched in the 18-to-49 demo, with a 12.1/29 in final Nielsen live-plus-same-day data.

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John Lafayette is a senior editor for Advertising Age sibling TV Week.

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