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Why This Year's Oscar Ceremony Could Be Biggest Yet

This coming Oscars ceremony could very well be the biggest Academy Awards ever in terms of viewers and ad dollars.

Oscar Awards
AP
Oscar Awards

Last week ABC sold out its commercial time for the 83rd installment of the awards show, with 30 second ads costing $1.7 million, up from just $1.4 million last year.

This is still a far cry from the $3 million per 30 seconds that the Super Bowl can draw, but it's certainly the second biggest advertising event of the year.

And that $1.7 million ad rate is a record: prices started ramping up after 2002's $1.29 million price and peaked at $1.69 million back in 2008.

This year we can expect ads from the usual suspects, like Procter & Gambleand Unilver , as well as some newer players, like Amazon . And for just the second time the awards show is allowing ads for movies.

You will see some Hyundai ads featuring Oscar nominee Jeff Bridges, even though there are restrictions about when commercials can air relative to a nominee's appearance in the show. Hyundai will still use Bridges recognizable voice in some of its nine spots during the show, but they won't air in the hour 'Best Actor' is being awarded.

And this year we could see sky high ratings, thanks to a big push to appeal to a wider, younger audience. Last year's show was watched by 41.6 million viewers, with a median age of 50, and this year we can expect even bigger, younger numbers. Last year's ratings benefited from the inclusion of ten nominees for best picture, double the usual amount, which continues again this year.

And the Academy cast two young stars, Anne Hathaway and James Franco to co-host the event, with a much younger appeal than last year's two co-hosts, Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin. Plus, for the first time ever ABC is live streaming the event. Red carpet footage will be free, while more behind the scenes footage will cost $4.99.

And the recent ratings at big events bode quite well. The Grammy Awards attracted 27 million viewers, the show's largest audience in 11 years and the Super Bowl drew record a record 111 million viewers.

There's no question, live events are in demand. There's plenty of speculation why, including bad weather this winter. But there's also plenty of talk about the "Twitter Effect" —how the ability to communicate so easily about an event in real time is driving more people to tune in to be part of the conversation.

Questions? Comments? MediaMoney@cnbc.com

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  • Working from Los Angeles, Boorstin is CNBC's media and entertainment reporter and editor of CNBC.com's Media Money section.