ABC Sees Increased Ad Demand for 2020 Oscar Telecast

Oscar Statue at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences - Getty-H 2019
Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images

With a slight ratings uptick this year, the network has already unloaded half of its inventory for the 93rd Academy Awards.

ABC has seen increased demand for next year’s Oscar telecast, selling half of its advertising inventory for the kudocast during the upfront market.

Thirty-second spots for the 92nd Academy Awards this past February went for between $2 million and $2.6 million depending on placement in the broadcast.

The usually bloated awards show has weathered declining tune-in for years. But this year’s host-less show saw a slight year-over-year uptick — a little over 3 million viewers — for close to 30 million. It was still among the least-watched Oscars since Nielsen began measuring tune-in. And it should be noted that all live TV is down in an on-demand content universe; even this year’s Super Bowl suffered declines. But the positive ratings story, and a paucity of guaranteed-to-be-watched-live content was enough to create increased demand for the spots. 

ABC is the last of the broadcast network groups to finish writing upfront deals, when the networks typically sell about 80-85 percent of their ad inventory for the television season that begins in the fall. Disney ad sales executives had a particularly big job this year due to an expanded portfolio that now includes former 21st Century Fox assets including FX and National Geographic Channel. The company saw overall CPM (cost per thousand viewers) increases in the double digits at ABC and low double-digits in cable and sports. Overall upfront sales were up 5 percent. Meanwhile, digital ad spending continues to make up a bigger — but still small — slice of the ad spend pie, and Disney saw a 50 percent increase in that sector versus last year.

And although this year’s NBA Finals did not match 2018’s stunning championship, ad rates for the NBA were up 10 percent across ABC and ESPN, while ESPN’s Monday Night Football notched volume increases of 20 percent.