The Academy Awards is nicknamed "prom for Hollywood," but it isn't just the biggest night of the year for Hollywood star-watching — it's also one of the biggest live TV events of the year, which means an ad goldmine for ABC (owned by Disney).
Perhaps the most apt nickname for the Oscars is "the Super Bowl for women," because it's one of the most important events of the year for advertisers — arguably the best occasion to reach a captive audience of women. ABC, which broadcasts the event, said it saw the highest demand for Oscar ads in over a decade.
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The average 30 second spot sold for between $1.65 million and $1.8 million, the highest prices since 2008, when ads averaged $1.7 million. That means this year ABC will bring in about $85 million in ad revenue, more than it has in over a decade.
Why are live events more valuable? In a word: Twitter. Chatter on Twitter and Facebook is driving more people to be part of the conversation and watch in real time, which means they're watching ads.
And this year ABC is looking to grow the social conversation with a new interactive app and Facebook ballot, which allows movie fans to watch and comment on the show with their friends.
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Plus, there's hope that new host Seth Macfarlane will draw younger and more male viewers, to balance out the traditionally female audience. Hyundi and JC Penney, which were the biggest ad buyers in last year's telecast are both returning. And we'll see two tech rivals duke it out: Apple and rival Samsung have both bought slots.
So how does ABC's $85 million take compare? Rival CBS has more big one-off events. In addition to the Grammys, where 30 second spots run as much as $900,000, it also has the Country Music Awards. And this year, it was CBS' turn in the Super Bowl rotation between CBS, Fox and NBC, and Super Bowl spots were the most expensive they've ever been — as much as $3.8 million.
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Fox has the biggest regular live show, "American Idol," and NBC has Sunday Night Football, where ads run north of half a million dollars. With the rise of DVR usage, the networks —ad advertisers — are willing to pay more and more to capture viewers' attention for rare real-time viewing.
—By CNBC's Julia Boorstin; Follow her on Twitter: @JBoorstin