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ABC's steep price for an 'Oscars' ad draws fire as 'no Zoom', plummeting ratings prompt backlash

Alexandra Canal
·Producer
·3 min read
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Media giant ABC (DIS) is seeking $2 million for 30-second ad spots during this year's Oscars telecast on April 25, according to Variety.

Last year, the network reportedly charged up to $2.8 million for a 30-second spot, whereas 2019's show saw ads sell for an average $1.98 million — a decline of 5% from 2018, according to market research company Kantar Media.

(Source: Kantar Media Division)
(Source: Kantar Media Division)

The most recent estimate, although historically on par with year's past, is still surprising considering the decline in Oscar viewership over the past several years.

Nielsen ratings previously revealed a record low for 2020. Just 23.6 million tuned in, representing a 20% drop from 2019 levels, and about 3 million less than 2018's previous record low.

Meanwhile, award shows that debuted throughout the course of the COVID-19 pandemic have seen rapid swings to the downside. Viewership for the Grammys, Golden Globes and Emmys were all significantly lower compared to last year — plummeting 53%, 63% and 12%, respectively.

Award show viewership amid pandemic
Award show viewership amid pandemic

If this COVID-era trend continues, the Oscars telecast could see viewership plummet even deeper than the lows experienced in 2020— something the Academy is acutely aware of when it comes to production.

Last week, Academy producers announced a strict "no Zoom" policy (ZM), which means nominees would not have the option to deliver virtual speeches, or patch in remotely during the ceremony. Instead, nominees are encouraged to attend the award show in person.

According to multiple reports, the mandate has prompted intense backlash from nominees who say the policy alienates those who are overseas or others who are working on outside projects and unable to quarantine.

At least nine nominees, including “Promising Young Woman” director Emerald Fennell and star Carey Mulligan, live in Britain. The UK, although easing restrictions March 29, will still not allow travel abroad, apart from a small number of exceptions.

The Academy did not immediately respond to Yahoo Finance's request for comment on the backlash.

An Oscar season we might 'never see again'

Chloe Zhao, winner of Best Director - Motion Picture speaks during the 78th Annual Golden Globe Virtual General Press Room on February 28, 2021
Chloe Zhao, winner of Best Director - Motion Picture speaks during the 78th Annual Golden Globe Virtual General Press Room on February 28, 2021

This year's Oscar nominations saw women and diversity at the forefront.

Overall, 9 actors of color were nominated — the most diverse acting slate in the Academy's history — with 70 women receiving 76 nominations.

For the first time ever, two women were nominated in the best director category: "Nomadland's" Chloe Zhao and "Promising Young Woman's" Emerald Fennell. Zhao, who won Best Director at this year's Golden Globes, is also the first woman of color to receive a nod in the category.

Other nomination standouts include "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom's" Viola Davis, whose Best Actress nod makes her the most nominated Black actress ever, along with "Minari's" Steven Yeun and "Sound of Metal's" Riz Ahmed for Best Actor. Yeun is the first Asian American to be nominated in the category, while Ahmed is the first Muslim Best Actor nominee.

"Diversity is key here," Comscore senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian previously told Yahoo Finance. He categorized this as an "anomaly of a year in terms of the way the nominees were presented," with the coronavirus shuttering the majority of U.S. theaters in 2020.

"This is a year like no other. I never think we will see an Oscars season like this again," he added.

Alexandra is a Producer & Entertainment Correspondent at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @alliecanal8193

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