The Internet site, to be announced today, will open Feb. 8, five days before Oscar nominations are revealed, and run through March 25, when it will provide an interactive twist to the highly rated TV program.
Eastman Kodak Co. and Revlon also have signed on as sponsors. AT&T Corp., Coca-Cola Co., General Motors Corp.'s Chevrolet Motor Division and other Academy Awards broadcast advertisers are being approached for the remaining three sponsorship slots.
1 MILLION VISITS
"We'd like to have a million visits" to the Web site during the telecast, said Jon Lazarus, Microsoft VP-strategic relations. The Oscars attract more than 1 billion TV viewers globally.
Microsoft has signed what it hopes will be a multi-year "strategic partnership" with Virtualize, a Santa Monica, Calif., new-media producer that has an exclusive worldwide license to develop interactive content for the Academy Awards.
Microsoft and Virtualize will work with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Oscar telecast producers, Quincy Jones and David Salzman.
The companies are in negotiations with ABC-TV, which is televising the show, so the site (http://oscars.guide.com) will be mentioned during the broadcast.
SPONSORS SEND MONEY
Microsoft is providing Virtualize with money and technology. Kodak also is providing money and digital technology to be a sponsor.
EMCI, Stamford, Conn., is handling sales and marketing for Virtualize.
Microsoft is seeking out big events where it can make an Internet splash: It paid $225,000-a record for a Net ad-to be title sponsor of the Super Bowl Web site (http://www.superbowl.com), developed by the National Football League and NBC Sports.
SPONSORSHIPS FROM $100,000
Virtualize President David Mangone said sponsorship prices on the Oscar site will be "comparable" to those on the Super Bowl site, where sponsorships range from $100,000 to $225,000.
Sponsors will get their logos on the site, have links to their home pages and play a role in the content. Kodak, for example, will offer a section discussing cinematography that also promotes its new digital imaging technology.