2020 Oscars ad revenue reaches $150 million

Advertising during the Academy Awards ceremony rose 13% compared with 2019.
21 April 2021
2020 Academy Awards feature image
Rachel Gursky

Content Marketing Director, Kantar, US

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The average cost of a 30-second spot during the 2020 Academy Awards ceremony rose 9% from 2019 to reach $2.15 million. Despite dwindling audiences in recent years, the Oscars is still the most-watched entertainment program of the year, generating strong second-screen engagement and provides an attractive platform for data-driven marketers to reach their target segments.

Ad revenues remain high

Oscar Sunday perennially generates more ad revenue for ABC than any other day of the year. Revenue is driven by the combination of unit pricing and volume of inventory sold, and both measures increased in 2020. Sponsors invested $129 million for messages in the awards show, up 13% compared to 2019. When the pre-ceremony Red Carpet coverage is included the grand total jumped to $150 million.

Ad load holds steady

The Academy Awards is a live telecast and its run time over the past five years has ranged from a trim 2 hours and 52 minutes (2019) to a bloated 3 hours and 55 minutes (2018). As of 2019 the Academy has stated it wishes to keep the televised ceremony to a maximum of three hours going forward. However, in 2020, the telecast lasted 3 hours and 36 minutes. Despite the varying length, the total amount of commercial time in the program has been a steady 43 to 46 minutes. As a reference point, the comparable average for three hours of primetime entertainment programming on a linear broadcast network is 46 minutes of commercials.

Cadillac leads in ad spend

The largest advertising positions in the Academy Awards are held by well-known marketers. In a typical year, the top five spenders account for more than one-half of total ad revenue. With advertisers like Cadillac and Rolex, it’s a noticeably higher-end mix than Super Bowl advertisers. Due to long-term sponsorship deals, the makeup of this group tends to change slowly.

Due to COVID-19 concerns, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences pushed the date for the 2021 Academy Awards back two months, from February to April. Despite dwindling viewership and the impact of the pandemic on the economy, ABC hasn’t made any significant changes to ad pricing its biggest revenue generating event of the year, seeking $2 million per :30 second spot for the 2021 Academy Awards. 

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