Broadcast TV executives are increasingly bullish on what they call “event TV,” those live, wide-appeal programming exceptions that cut through today's fragmented technology and still grab a mass audience.
While they can't deliver Olympics, Golden Globes or a “Tonight Show” debut every week, they do what they can, even coining a term — “eventize” — to describe the new programming strategy.
The Oscars remain one of the purer events on the TV calendar. By building in red carpet coverage (starting at 5 p.m. MT) and the Jimmy Kimmel “After the Oscars” show, ABC aims to get a bigger bang for the 86th Annual Academy Awards, hosted once again by Ellen DeGeneres, at 6:30 p.m. MT Sunday on KMGH.
The Oscars averaged 40.4 million viewers last year, the biggest telecast of the year not related to football. Seth MacFarlane drew mostly negative reviews as host (still trying to forget the “We saw your boobs” musical number), but drew a respectable rating.
The most watched Academy Award telecast was in 1998 telecast with 55.25 million viewers. “Titanic” won Best Picture that year and Billy Crystal was the host. The only other Oscarcast to average over 50 million viewers was in 1983 when “Gandhi” won Best Picture.
Media maven Brad Adgate, research director at Horizon Media, stresses the popularity of “event” programming this year:
– In the first quarter of 2014, the Golden Globes telecast on NBC delivered its highest audience in ten years with 20.9 million viewers.
– The 2014 Grammy Awards on CBS averaged 28.5 million viewers, up from last year's 28.38 million and the second largest audience in the last 21 years (after the 2012 telecast, the day after Whitney Houston died).
– The 2014 Broncos-Seahawks Super Bowl telecast on Fox set another audience record with over 112 million viewers. Additionally, the two NFL conference championship games were tied with 2012 as the most watched since 1982.
Just how big an event is the Oscar show? What's your guess: Will there be a “Titanic”-size crowd this year?