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Ad Wars: The Super Bowl Vs. The Oscars

Wayne Duggan

It’s fairly common knowledge the Super Bowl typically draws the largest TV audience of the year and is also the most expensive real estate on TV when it comes to advertisers. However, the second most expensive event of the year for advertisers is coming up: the Academy Awards show.

According to a report by University of Detroit Mercy professor Dr. Mike Bernacchi, Oscar ads are actually much more expensive for advertisers per viewer than Super Bowl ads are.

Related Link: The Economics Of A Super Bowl Ad

In 2016, 30-second Super Bowl ads cost roughly $4.5 million for access to an audience of 111.8 million. That same year, 30-second Oscar ads cost $1.9 million, despite a relatively small audience of only 34.4 million viewers. In other words, Super Bowl advertisers were paying $0.40 per audience member, while Oscar advertisers were spending $0.55 per viewer.

“That’s right, in spite of the SB ads being 2.37 times more expensive than Oscar ads, the Oscar ads were 15 cents more expensive per viewer,” Bernacchi explains.

Despite its wide audience appeal, the Oscar show has different audience demographics than the Super Bowl. Why are advertisers paying so much for Oscar air time?

“Meg James of the LA Times (2013) stated [the] Oscar audience is primarily female, ‘well educated and affluent’ with high disposable income,” Bernacchi writes. “It also attracts influencers, pop culturalists and social media messengers.”

When it comes to audience size, the Oscars may be the Super Bowl of TV advertising. In the past two decades, advertisers have paid between $0.03 and $0.25 more per audience member than Super Bowl advertisers have.

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