Oscars Viewership Insights: Who watched and what it means for the future of streaming
Content Marketing Manager
Apr 8, 2022
History was made at this year’s Academy Awards – from groundbreaking wins by Ariana DeBose and Troy Kotsur moving representation forward to a milestone for streaming. With CODA taking home the night's biggest award, AppleTV+ became the first streaming platform to win Best Picture (an honor Netflix has had in its sights for years). Oh, and it's impossible to forget about the slap.
How did viewership of the annual awards show fare? And did the Oscars buzz drive audiences to watch the nominated flicks pre- and post-ceremony? We dug into our first-party TV and streaming data to find out who tuned in, which advertisers came out on top, and what impact the awards had on streaming viewership of the nominated and Oscar-winning films.
Viewership was up – before AND after the slap heard around the world
All in all, it was a big year for the annual event with 11.5M U.S. households watching – up 32% from last year’s awards. And although 1.5M of those households only tuned in after *that* moment, viewership was still up significantly year over year.
”Even before the slap heard around the world drew huge attention to the Oscars, it was clear this year‘s awards show was on track to outperform last year’s ceremony,” said Cole Strain, Samba TV’s Head of Measurement. “That 11.5M households opted to tune in live to this year’s awards was a clear break from the declining awards show trend we saw in 2021. Streaming may have played a role in broadening interest for the films this year as viewers were able to easily watch all of the best picture nominees from the comfort of their home before Sunday night.”
Viewership of the awards was driven largely by liberal-leaning coastal cities. Of the top 25 largest DMAs, New York over-indexed the most (+51%), followed by San Francisco (+49%), and Los Angeles (+49%). The awards also skewed towards higher-income households with incomes over $100k over-indexing for the event and households with incomes over $200k over-indexing the most (+39%). For advertisers, this made for a prime opportunity to reach these valuable audiences.
Entertainment advertisers achieve the highest reach during the awards
Which advertisers reached the largest portion of this massive audience? Outside of ABC, the host network, the advertiser with the highest overall reach during the live event was Verizon reaching 9.4M U.S. households during the show across its nine ads.
However, the single highest reaching ad creative during the three-plus-hour event was Hulu’s ad for The Dropout, which reached 6.1M U.S. households. Hulu also aired the Oscars, making a live stream available to its Hulu + Live TV subscribers. It should come as no surprise that the Oscars is an ideal place for entertainment advertisers to reach a large and captive audience of movie and TV fans.
The effect of Oscar nominations on streaming viewership
Ahead of the March 27th ceremony, we looked at viewership of the available streaming films from their nomination on February 8th through the week prior to Oscar night. While the Netflix film Don’t Look Up was the most streamed overall, only 6% of its lifetime viewership occurred after nominations – the smallest ratio of all the films.
On the other hand, although CODA trailed in overall viewership, it saw the largest viewership increase of any streaming nominee with 38% of its lifetime viewership happening post-nomination! Download our Oscars Best Picture Analysis for a closer look at post-nomination streaming viewership and additional insights.
And the Oscar (and largest viewership increase) goes to…
Did we accurately predict the Best Picture winner with our data? Looks like it! CODA brought a milestone win for streaming, beating out Netflix to become the first streamer to take home Best Picture.
After the awards, each of the streamers used the clout from their wins to promote their films across their platforms, with Apple TV+ sending out push notifications the following week. Did winning Best Picture drive viewership? Absolutely. CODA saw 4x the amount of viewership during the week after its win than it saw during its initial premiere and first week on AppleTV+. But it wasn’t the only film to see additional viewership.
486k U.S. households watched King Richard in the week following Will Smith’s much-discussed win for Best Actor – equal to 37% of the viewership it saw during its day-and-date HBO Max premiere and first week streaming on the platform. Alternately, Don’t Look Up saw just 2% of its Netflix premiere week viewership during the week following the awards show.
With more audiences cutting the cord and linear reach becoming a real challenge for advertisers looking to make an impact, the Oscars are a huge draw. Incorporating tentpole moments like the Academy Awards into a broader strategy will ensure advertisers are reaching audiences when and where they’re most engaged.
And with streaming taking center stage at this year’s Oscars, streaming audiences were likely more invested in the event than years past. As the line between Box Office and streaming continues to blur, is this year’s Academy Awards indicative of what’s to come? With critical acclaim and audience approval, CODA sets the stage for the future of streaming making it anyone’s guess where the next Best Picture will get its start. And, with the Oscars providing a chance for advertisers to reach these streaming audiences, next year’s ceremony should be a no-brainer.
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