The Oscar Telecast

Before I wrap up on the Oscars for 2015, I’d be a bit remiss if I didn’t bring up the actual telecast of the show, which was down 17% in the ratings. It’s not really hard to see why – I’m not sure why the Oscar producers have so much trouble figuring this out.

Let’s start with a little math:

  • 24 awards are given out during the show, which runs a shade over three hours, which averages one about every 8.5 minutes. Sounds kind of slow, doesn’t it?
  • I didn’t count the number of commercials, but the average commercial broadcast runs 8 minutes of ads per 22 minutes of show. Therefore there were, at a minimum of 48 minutes of commercials during the telecast.
  • Depending on who you ask, there are 6-9 “major” Oscar awards. The ones everyone agree on are: Best Picture, Best Director and the four acting categories. 2/3 of these came in the last hour, or after 10:30pm.
  • Population of the Eastern Time Zone in the United States: 142 million

So it’s almost 10 minutes between each award, with 25% of that time being commercial ads, and half of the US population doesn’t see the top awards until late on a Sunday night of a workweek.

Like I said – not real difficult to see why people aren’t watching the show.

Allow me to make a few humble suggestions.

  1. Expand the red-carpet coverage, starting at 6pm ET/3pm PT. While this isn’t my thing, half the reason people like the show is to see celebrities wearing pretty clothes (and, let’s face it, make fun of celebrities wearing weird clothing).
  2. Reduce the show from 3 hours 15 minutes to 2 hours, 30 minutes, without substantially changing the show. Start it at 8pm ET/5pm PT, ending at 10:30pm ET/7:30pm PT. Here’s how:
    1. Reduce the ad-time from 48 minutes to 24 minutes. 12 minutes are lost by the reduction of the show’s run-time, then exchange 12 minutes worth of ads for product placement and sponsor logo graphics throughout the show. Not ideal, but a faster show is best for everyone (24 minutes gained).
    2. 24 awards. Approximately 1 minute for each person to walk up to the stage. Kill this entirely by having all nominees on stage as their award is announced. That actually gives more recognition to the individual nominees (18-20 minutes gained, since recognizing the nominees will take a little bit of time).
    3. That shorts it by 3-5 minutes, but dropping a lame gag or two (NPH’s Oscar predictions, anyone?) and you get there pretty quick.
  3. Add a post-show wrap-up, with commercials. Behind-the-scenes from the Oscar celebrations, interviews with the winners, and so on. Ends by 11pm ET. Everyone has a post-show wrap-up now – even The Walking Dead!

There’s also the issue of fan interaction. There’s ways to include things like Twitter posts, Oscar predictions and fan voting of nominees throughout the show. For example, as each category is coming up, open a page on a website and allow fans to vote for their favorite. A sponsor can brand that page (making up for some of the lost ads), and the results can be displayed as each winner is walking off the stage.

Oh – and cut a deal with AMC and get them to bench that zombie show on Oscar night. No one wants to go up against The Walking Dead – even the Oscars.