ABC is raking in record dollars from advertisers who want to appear in the "Super Bowl for Women," otherwise known as the Academy Awards telecast, the network said Wednesday.
Thirty-second commercial spots sold for $1.3 million, a 10% increase from last year's rates, network executives said. The Walt Disney Co. unit sold its inventory -- 60 spots throughout the 3 1/2-hour March 23 broadcast and a 30-minute red-carpet show -- several weeks earlier than last year.
"It's a record high price for us, and a healthy increase over last year's pricing," said Geri Wang, ABC's senior vice president for prime-time advertising sales. ABC has broadcast Hollywood's signature event since 1976.
The Oscars are the second-highest-rated TV event of the year, behind the Super Bowl. This year, several new companies joined the roster of national advertisers, including Home Depot Inc. and Washington Mutual Inc., two firms that took a pass on the Super Bowl. Thirty-second spots during the game cost $2.1 million.
Unlike the Super Bowl, nearly two-thirds of the Oscar audience are women.
"The Academy Awards provide a more effective and more efficient demographic for us," said Olivia Riley, a Washington Mutual spokeswoman. "It reaches a better cross-section of ... Middle America, and that's our target audience."
Last year, an average of 42 million people tuned in, far fewer than the record 55 million in 1998, when "Titanic" won the best picture award.
American Express Co., Anheuser-Busch Cos., General Motors Corp, J.C. Penney Co., Eastman Kodak Co., Pepsi-Cola Co., MasterCard International Inc., McDonald's Corp., Procter & Gamble Co., AIG Inc., AOL Time Warner Inc. and Charles Schwab Corp. have bought time. Home Depot, whose customer base is almost evenly split between men and women, quickly decided to get into the Oscars.
"Most home-improvement decisions are made by couples," said Home Depot's chief marketing executive, John Costello. "So the Academy Awards provide a very attractive audience for us."