ABC stocked with Oscarcast ads

By John Dempsey

NEW YORK (Variety) – While Madison Avenue focuses on big February events like the Super Bowl and the Winter Olympics from Salt Lake City, ABC has quietly sold about 90% of the advertising time on the March 24 Oscarcast for about $1.25 million per 30-second spot.

That’s about 7% below the $1.4 million average for the 2001 Academy Awards (news – web sites). But sources say ABC is counting on stepped-up demand for the final 10% of time still available when the network makes another push on the ad agencies following the NBC Olympics coverage from Feb. 8 to 25. With 48 30-second spots at ABC’s disposal, the network figures to gross about $60 million for the kudocast.

“The Oscars (news – web sites) are perennially the second most-watched television show of the year” behind the Super Bowl, said Mike Shaw, president of sales and marketing for the ABC TV network.

The telecast is a magnet for advertisers seeking a global event that typically reaches masses of young, upscale viewers, with a demographic skew toward women.

Shaw would not comment on the dollar figures and denied a published report Tuesday that the average price of a 30-second spot on the Oscars was going for only $1 million; he said that he and his staff were buoyed by the strength of the demand for time on the Academy Awards despite a sluggish advertising marketplace and a 17-day Winter Olympics on NBC that comes only once every four years.

ABC’s coverage of the Oscars on Sunday, March 24, begins at 7 p.m. (ET), with an hourlong Barbara Walters-hosted special. From 8 to 8:30, ABC will cover the red-carpet arrivals of the celebrities, and the Academy Awards show begins at 8:30.