Movie buzz is up following the Golden Globes, SAG Awards and the nominations for the Academy Awards, but in recent years viewership for many award shows (including the Oscars) has actually been declining. Is it the host? The length of the broadcast? Or does it have something to do with the movies themselves?
According to a recent study by Nielsen Preview, viewership of the Academy Awards is directly impacted by the box office draw of the best picture nominees and the popularity of the host.
During the 2004 Academy Awards (hosted by Billy Crystal), there was a 28% increase in households tuning in. This was the year that "Lord of the Rings: Return of the King" was nominated (and won) best picture. A blockbuster hit, generating over $350M in revenues, the movie's broad appeal translated to a strong ratings boost to nearly all demographics.
Host popularity and awareness, as defined by Nielsen EDI, also has a profound affect on ratings. The highest rating for women 18-24 was in 2007 - the year Ellen Degeneres hosted. Ellen's appeal with women also buoyed ratings (which had fallen in prior years) among women 35-55+.
For more information and an outlook for the upcoming 2009 Academy Awards, click here.