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Oscars 2013: Do People Still Care?

Reid Nakamura |
February 25, 2013 | 12:43 p.m. PST

Staff Reporter

Was anyone watching when "Argo" won Best Picture? (Twitpic)
Was anyone watching when "Argo" won Best Picture? (Twitpic)

The 85th Academy Awards Ceremony was aired Sunday night and after three and a half hours, the year’s Best Picture Award was given out to Ben Affleck’s “Argo.” However, the real question is: Did anyone actually care enough to watch?

The Academy certainly seemed hopeful. The decision to use Seth MacFarlane, the creator of “Family Guy,” as host was no accident. After a small rise in the ratings last year with Billy Crystal, the Academy chose MacFarlane to draw in the younger viewers. The ceremony was broadcast in over 200 countries and early on in the show MacFarlane claimed it would be viewed by 1 billion people.

It seems that The Academy got it right. Early ratings show a rise in viewership of about 19% when compared to the 2012 ceremony. Though these ratings are liable to change quite a bit for a live broadcast like The Oscars (They reflect viewership based on the same time slots in different time zones. It works for pre-recorded shows, but The Oscars were just starting at 8:30 EST and by 8:30 PST they were coming to a close), they give a good idea of about how many people were watching last night.

But why did so many people spend their Sunday night watching the marathon-length program? There are plenty of ways to find out the winners mere moments after the ceremony ends. This year, for the first time, the complete show is even available to stream online on Hulu and at ABC.com. What makes the live broadcast, commercials and all, so appealing to viewers?

ALSO SEE: Read all of Neon Tommy's Oscars 2013 coverage here

The answer is event television. The idea that the show being broadcast is a once-in-a-lifetime event. The feeling that everyone is watching it and will be talking about it tomorrow. The idea of event television is what consistently makes The Super Bowl the most-watched program of the year. It is the same reason that “American Idol” and “The Voice” always pull in a ton of viewers.

The producers are fully aware of this concept and do everything they can to make the show as exciting as possible. How can a viewer miss out on the chance to see Jennifer Hudson belting out her famous song from “Dreamgirls?” Or Adele singing “Skyfall” live for the first and probably only time? If the show were just a string of awards presentations, there would be no incentive to watch. The producers don’t add in all of the extras just to make the show excruciatingly long, they do it to make the show an event. An event that people look forward to for weeks. An event that people throw parties to watch.  An event that draws in tens of millions of viewers. If you didn’t spend your entire evening watching The Oscars, you missed out.

Reach Staff Reporter Reid Nakamura here.



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