There once was a time when the Academy Awards were all about movies. While they still are—and always will be—they’ve grown to showcase much more than just actors playing out scripts on a big screen. And because they showcase the works of musicians, actors, screenwriters and many others, the Oscar effect has widespread implications, as nominations, victories and performances during the event often spark a flurry of sales and streaming activity across the entire entertainment landscape.
First and foremost, the Academy Awards are about the movies, so any recap that doesn’t lead with a film angle is taking a peripheral view of the event and its impact. Since not all of the winners from the recent Oscars are out on DVD yet, we looked at last year’s prize winners to assess what effect the statue had on disc sales.
While the uptick in DVD/Blu-ray sales may vary depending on whether an award goes to an actor or a film, disc sales for all winners appeared to be positively affected by the awards when comparing the month of the Oscars against the sales of the following month.“12 Years a Slave,” saw sales that were 86% higher in the month it won the Best Picture category. Comparatively, sales rose 70% for “Dallas Buyers Club” in March versus April and 76% for “Blue Jasmine” after Matthew McConaughey and Cate Blanchett won in the Best Actor and Best Actress categories, respectively. In the Best Director category, “Gravity” sales were 78% higher in March compared to the following month after Alfonso Cuarón took home the Oscar.
But there’s more to the Oscar effect that just what we see on the screen. Movies today rely extensively on their soundtracks and the musicians that score them, as they help broaden the appeal by capitalizing on the acclaim of popular music artists.
For example, Lada Gaga performed a tribute to the classic film “The Sound of Music” during this year’s Oscars, which created significant buzz on social media. According to Nielsen Music Connect, the performance propelled a 3,252% gain in Lady Gaga's Facebook likes and a 28.5% gain in her followership on Twitter. Video streams of Lady Gaga's music shot up by 15.2%, and on-demand streaming grew by 10.1%.
Lady Gaga wasn’t the only artist to benefit from consumers’ growing appetite for on-demand streams. When we compare on-demand streams for the Best Original Score nominees between February 15 and 16 with those from February 22 and 23, we see some dramatic spikes.
In addition to on-demand streaming, the Oscars boosted sales in the hours and days following the show. And sales didn’t just rise for tunes featured in nominated movies. For example, digital downloads of “I Can't Let Go,” Jennifer Hudson’s musical tribute to the renowned actors, filmmakers and craftsmen who passed away in 2014 skyrocketed 7,000% directly following her appearance. Album sales of The Sound of Music soundtrack increased 90%, and combined digital track sales grew almost 70% from purchases made before midnight Sunday/Monday, with “My Favorite Things” leading the way.