Oscars 2011 Primed For Internet Breakthrough

Oscar Award2

The Academy Awards may be as far removed from the decidedly less glamorous world of digital media as you can get. And yet Sunday’s Oscars has the potential to be a defining moment for the convergence of the internet and entertainment.

There’s a promising trend that’s been building since 2010 but really gathering steam early this year: the hand-in-glove symbiosis of marquee TV events and social media. After bubbling up last year, it really exploded this month with the Super Bowl and the Grammys.

The Oscars is wisely capitalizing on that trend, but taking it a step further. The Academy and its host network, ABC (NYSE: DIS), are teaming up to offer an ambitious online supplement to the Oscar viewing experience. It comes in two flavors: Oscar.com’s $5 All Access offers multiple camera angles and other customized add-ons from the red carpet preceding the telecast to the Governors Ball afterward. There’s also a Backstage Pass 99-cent second-screen experience available iPod, iTouch and iPad. ABC has already experimented with this on series programming.

While there’s little doubt the Oscars will be able to harness buzz online, it’s a whole other question whether there’s a market willing to pay for the privilege of taking a TV event deeper. In success, this could become a real revenue source, not to mention a more attractive place for advertisers to be.

Of course, marketers will also be doing their own online pushes in the high-priced commercial pods interspersed in the ABC telecast. As the Super Bowl demonstrated, a great spot becomes a springboard for taking consumer engagement with a brand to a whole new level on YouTube (NSDQ: GOOG) or a marketer’s own dot-com.

Marketers also understand that platforms like Twitter and Facebook become must-have companions to the TV experience, deepening engagement with a telecast by playing host to real-time communication concerning what’s being watched. This couldn’t be better news for the TV industry, which is seeing a ratings rejuvenation for awards shows after years of seemingly irreversible decline.

What’s even greater is it reinforces the value of live TV over warmed-over windows like digital video recorders or video on demand that are of less worth to advertisers. And it’s also of true cultural value, bringing back the shared societal experience that knit together society decades ago before the medium became hopelessly fragmented by cable and the internet.

Check back at paidContent the morning after the Oscars for a review of the All Access experience.

Here’s a video demo of Backstage Pass:

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