The Nielsen Company's Guide to the Academy Awards

NEW YORK, Feb. 20 /PRNewswire/ -- Several Nielsen businesses -- including Nielsen EDI, Nielsen SoundScan, Nielsen BookScan, Nielsen Media Research, Nielsen Monitor-Plus, Nielsen//NetRatings, Nielsen BuzzMetrics, and Scarborough Research -- today released a wide range of consumer and media information illustrating the enormous impact that the Academy Awards has on the U.S.

As the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences prepares to announce the Oscar winners in Hollywood, California on February 25, Nielsen has combined data on box-office receipts, album sales, television ratings, advertising trends, Internet measurement, and lifestyle information of Academy Award nominees from this year and past years. Among the findings:

  • Box Office figures for Best Picture nominees show an impressive increase after their nominations are announced.
  • The Academy Awards on ABC Network continues to be one of the highest rated TV events of the year, with last year's award show attracting more than 39 million U.S. viewers.
  • The cost for a 30-second advertisement reached an all-time high in 2006, while traditional advertiser categories continued to dominate the broadcast.
  • Academy Award nominees saw a sharp increase in visits to their Web sites in the weeks prior to the award ceremony. Oscar related buzz on the Internet showed Best Actor/Actress nominees Helen Mirren and Forest Whitaker most dominant in online conversations in blogs.
  • In many cases, performances during the Oscar telecast will significantly impact album sales. With the "Dreamgirls" soundtrack already standing out as one of this year's best selling albums, this could be one of those years.
  • Fans who tune into the televised broadcast are more likely to be married and female and more 'news savvy', according to Scarborough


Box Office Sales (Nielsen EDI)

How much of an impact do Academy Award nominations have on the distribution and ticket sales for the nominated movies? Comparing the number of theatres showing each movie and ticket sales before and after the nominations were announced on January 23rd shows significant increases in most cases.

Movie Weekend Prior to Weekend After % Change
Nominations Nominations
Babel 889 1090 23
The Departed 127 1453 1044
Letters From Iwo Jima 360 415 15
The Queen 1586 1830 15
Little Miss Sunshine 17 27 59

Source: Nielsen EDI

Movie Total 3 Weekends Total 3 Weekends % Change
Prior Nominations After Nominations
Babel $2,985,295 $5,293,133 77
The Departed $908,541 $6,995,282 670
Letters From Iwo Jima $1,884,725 $5,293,133 181
The Queen $5,803,918 $9,036,307 56
Little Miss Sunshine $55,165 $88,147 60

Source: Nielsen EDI

Having very impressive gross sales are not a requirement for a nominee in the top categories. For example, Letters from Iwo Jima, in movie theaters for 8 weeks, earned only $8 million at the U.S. box office through Feb 11, while fellow nominee The Departed pulled in close to $129 million since its release.

Open Date Nominated Movie Gross Box Office Sales

Best Picture
10/27/2006 Babel $32,019,555
10/6/2006 The Departed $130,744,874
12/20/2006 Letters From Iwo Jima $9,935,921
7/26/2006 Little Miss Sunshine $59,719,677
9/30/2006 The Queen $48,897,648

Best Actor
12/8/2006 Blood Diamond $55,104,016
8/11/2006 Half Nelson $2,697,938
12/21/2006 Venus $1,837,193
12/15/2006 The Pursuit of Happyness $160,490,618
9/27/2006 The Last King of Scotland $11,449,370

Best Actress
11/3/2006 Volver $10,946,263
12/27/2006 Notes On A Scandal $13,926,668
9/30/2006 The Queen $48,897,648
6/30/2006 The Devil Wears Prada $124,740,460
10/6/2006 Little Children $4,701,836

Best Director
10/27/2006 Babel $30,342,188
10/6/2006 The Departed $129,402,536
12/20/2006 Letters From Iwo Jima $8,206,470
9/30/2006 The Queen $48,897,648
4/28/2006 United 93 $31,567,134

Source: Nielsen EDI. Note: Data through 2/11/2007

DVD Sales (Nielsen VideoScan)

The Best Picture award winner of 2006 Crash saw a 27.3% lift in DVD unit sales in the 7-weeks after it was nominated. Crash also saw a 143% increase in DVD unit sales in the 7-weeks after it won Best Picture (compared to the 7- weeks before its Oscar win). This year, most nominated movies were not available on DVD by the time the Academy announced its nominations.

Music Sales (Nielsen SoundScan and Analysis by Billboard's Geoff Mayfield)

If sales of the single-disc Dreamgirls soundtrack were combined with those of the two-disc deluxe version, it would be the second best selling album of 2007 with 432,000 copies sold since the beginning of the year through Feb. 11, according to Nielsen SoundScan. The single-disc version spent two weeks at No. 1 on The Billboard 200 and has sold 734,000 copies since its Dec. 5 release, 348,000 of those since the start of this year. The deluxe version has scanned another 162,000 since it reached stores Dec. 5. Three of this year's Original Song nominees appear on the Dreamgirls albums.

This year nominees, ranked by digital sales to date:

-- "Listen" (Dreamgirls): 173,000
-- "Love You Like I Do" (Dreamgirls): 30,000
-- "I Need to Wake Up" (An Inconvenient Truth): 23,000
-- "Our Town" (Cars): 21,000
-- "Patience", three versions (Dreamgirls): 6,000 (most of them Eddie Murphy's version)

The biggest selling film soundtrack of 2006: Curious George by Jack Johnson, selling 1.1 million copies from its Feb. 7, 2006 release through the end of the year. It was the fourth best selling soundtrack of the year, trailing three Disney Channel-related albums.

The best selling soundtrack in Nielsen SoundScan history: The Bodyguard, selling 11.8 million since its release, Nov. 10, 1992.

In some years, the Oscars have a negligible impact on sales. However, if it's a year when Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young each perform songs from Philadelphia, the impact on that album can be stunning. In 1994, that soundtrack more than doubled after the Oscars (from 32,000 to 77,000 copies), which translated into a 34-12 jump on The Billboard 200.

Last year, after Gustavo Santaolalla won for Original Score, the soundtrack from Brokeback Mountain saw a 61% gain, good for a 148-83 jump on The Billboard 200, while Hustle & Flow, with the winning song by Three 6 Mafia, posted the chart's largest percentage gain, as a 77% increase took that soundtrack 143-73.
Book Sales (Nielsen BookScan)

Many of the movies nominated for the top categories, were based, or at least in part, on a book or a book was developed in conjunction with the movie. Nielsen BookScan, which covers 75% of sales in the book industry, took a look at sales of books that are related to the nominated movies. The chart below compares 2007 sales versus sales since each title's release date. All data below includes sales for hard and paperback formats.


Release to
Title Publication Author 2007 Date
Date Sales* Sales*+
The Pursuit of 6/1/2006 Chris Gardener 67,000 225,000
The Last King 10/1/1998 Giles Foden 600 8,000^
of Scotland
Notes On A 11/1/2006 Zoe Heller 2,000 12,000
The Devil 4/1/2003 Lauren 3,000 1,757,000
Wears Prada Weisberger
Little Children 3/1/2004 Tom Perrotta 3,000 223,000
An Inconvenient 5/1/2006 Albert Gore 3,000 300,000
The Black 9/1/1987 James Ellroy 11,000 217,000
The Good 10/1/2001 Joseph Kannon 19,000 151,000
Children of 2/1/1993 P.D. James 30,000 54,000

Source: Nielsen BookScan. NOTES: Nielsen BookScan does not track sales of books through Wal-Mart, Sam's, BJ's, airports or libraries.

*Includes both hardcover and paperback editions. +Includes 2007 sales data through 2/4/2007.

^Nielsen BookScan began collecting data in January 2001; as the earliest release of this title was before this date, the total sales figure represents sales from 2001-present. #Earliest publication date of title.

TV Viewership (Nielsen Media Research)

In 2006, an average of 39 million Americans tuned in to the ABC Network to watch the Academy Awards. The event averaged a 23.1% household rating, down slightly from the previous years.

Over the past ten years, the most-watched Academy Award broadcast was in 1998 when Titanic was voted Best Picture, which drew 55 million viewers for an average household rating of 34.9%. The lowest rated in recent years was the 2003 Academy Awards when Chicago was voted Best Picture, with only 20 percent of U.S. homes tuned into the telecast.

In local U.S. markets, the highest overall local rating in 2006 -- at nearly 37% -- was in New York. The second largest local TV audience, with an average of 34%, was in Chicago. (See TV Ratings chart at right -- note that local TV ratings are based on Live+7).

Television Ratings

Average Viewers on ABC Network
2006 -- 39 million
2005 -- 42 million
2004 -- 43 million
2003 -- 33 million
2002 -- 41 million
2001 -- 42 million

Top-10 Local Market Average Household Ratings -- 2006
1. New York 36.7%
2. Chicago 33.6%
3. San Francisco/Oakland 32.7%
4. Philadelphia 32.2%
5. Atlanta 30.8%
5. Austin 30.8%
6. Seattle-Tacoma 30.7%
7. Kansas City 30.6%
8. San Diego 30.2%
9. West Palm Beach 30.0%
10. Minneapolis 29.9

Source: Nielsen Media Research

Advertising Trends (Nielsen Monitor-Plus)

Nielsen Monitor-Plus, the global advertising intelligence service of Nielsen Media Research analyzed ad spending for the movies that have been nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, and Best Actor.
Best Motion Picture and Best Director

Over $83 million was spent on advertising in the U.S. for the Best Motion Picture nominees from January - November 2006. Almost half was spent on The Departed, which was also nominated for Best Director. Spending for Little Miss Sunshine, The Queen, and Babel ranged from $11.9 to $16.4 million, while Letters from Iwo Jima had no advertising activity at all in the U.S. Advertising spending for the movies in the Best Director category totaled $94.4 million. Once again, The Departed led the way with over $40 million in advertising dollars spent.


Motion Picture Jan 2006-Nov 2006 $ Nomination Received
The Departed $40,264,620 Best Picture, Best Director
Babel $16,418,707 Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Director
The Queen $14,552,326 Best Picture
Little Miss $11,942,724 Best Picture, Best Director
Letters From $0 Best Director
Iwo Jima
United 93 $23,217,350 Best Director

Source: Nielsen Monitor-Plus

Best Actress and Best Actor

The movies nominated in the Best Actress category collectively spent $40.5 million in advertising dollars in January - November of last year. The Devil Wears Prada had more than half of the spending at $22.3 million. Volver and Notes on a Scandal had smaller ad budgets, each spending under $1 million.

Motion Picture Jan 2006- Nomination Nominee
Nov 2006 $ Received
The Devil $22,380,609 Best Actress Meryl Streep
Wears Prada
The Queen $14,552,326 Best Actress, Helen Mirren
Director, Picture
Little Children $2,510,686 Best Actress Kate Winslet
Volver $903,091 Best Actress Penelope Cruz
Notes on a $240,615 Best Actress Judi Dench

Source: Nielsen Monitor-Plus

The films in the Best Actor category spent even less on advertising than the Best Actress movies. In total, these films spent $33.5 million, with nearly 60% all ad dollars going to Blood Diamond ($19.9). As in the Best Actress category, two of the five nominated films spent under $1 million in advertising: Half Nelson ($331,327) and Venus ($241,728).


Motion Picture Jan 2006- Nomination Nominee
Nov 2006 $ Received
Blood Diamond $19,979,942 Best Actor Leonardo DiCaprio
The Pursuit $10,672,542 Best Actor Will Smith
of Happyness
The Last King $2,379,001 Best Actor Forest Whitaker
of Scotland
Half Nelson $331,327 Best Actor Ryan Gosling
Venus $241,728 Best Actor Peter O'Toole

Source: Nielsen Monitor-Plus

Top Advertisers During the 2006 Telecast

The 2006 Academy Award ceremony had a total of 24 1/2 commercial minutes during the televised broadcast on ABC Network, with General Motors airing 4 minutes of commercials (spending a total of $13.17 million).

Instead of focusing on Cadillac as it has in years past, in 2006 GM also promoted its Hummer, Saab, and Yukon vehicles. L'Oreal, which became a major advertiser in 2005, aired 3 1/2 minutes of ads in 2006, double the amount than the year before. L'Oreal spent $11.53 million in 2006. The third largest advertiser in 2006 was Coca-Cola, which replaced Pepsi as the exclusive soft drink company.

Coca-Cola spent $9.8 million to advertise their Diet Coke and Tab brands for 3 minutes. Total advertising revenue for the event was $80.7 million.

Average Cost for a 30-second Commercial

The cost for a 30-second commercial has increased 27.5% over the five-year period since 2002 ($1.29 million in 2002 to $1.65 million in 2006). Although the cost per commercial varies, total advertising expenditures during the program shows a steady increase.

Academy Avg Cost Per Winner of Best Picture
Award Year 30 Second Commercial
2006 $1,646,800 Crash
2005 $1,503,000 Million Dollar Baby
2004 $1,503,100 Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
2003 $1,345,800 Chicago
2002 $1,290,000 A Beautiful Mind
2001 $1,450,000 Gladiator
2000 $1,305,000 American Beauty
1999 $1,000,000 Shakespeare in Love
1998 $950,000 Titanic
1997 $850,000 The English Patient
1996 $795,000 Braveheart
1995 $700,000 Forrest Gump
1994 $643,500 Schindler's List
1993 $607,800 Unforgiven

Source: Nielsen Monitor-Plus

Online Usage (Nielsen//NetRatings)

Traffic to the three major Oscar Web sites (, and reached 1.7 million unique visitors on the day of the awards ceremony last year according to Nielsen//NetRatings. The next day, the combined Web traffic to these sites increased 60 percent to 2.7 million. Weekly unique visitors to these three Web sites grew 171 percent in the week ending in Oscar night, up to 2.8 million from 1.0 million the week before.

In 2006 grew 39 percent year over year, from an Oscar week unique audience of 518,000 to 720,000.
This year movie buffs have already started the Oscar countdown, driving visitation to the Web sites of Oscar-nominated films. The combined traffic to the Web sites of the major Oscar contenders increased 91 percent in December vs. November, from 584,000 to 1.1 million unique visitors.
Internet Buzz (Nielsen BuzzMetrics)

Nielsen BuzzMetrics audits Internet brand buzz before, during and after the Academy Awards, coming from its database of approximately 40 million blogs. BuzzMetrics provides advertisers with comprehensive data and deep insight around stickiness, virality and even the popularity of the event and the nominees.

The following chart shows the blog buzz for this year's Best Actor and Actress nominees. Among all Oscar related buzz where the top actors were referenced, Helen Mirren and Forest Whitaker were most dominant in online conversation on weblogs relative to their fellow actors. Peter O'Toole was least buzzworthy.


Internet Buzz in
Last 60 Days % of Internet Buzz
Best Actor Related to Among All Best
Nominees Oscars Actor Candidates
Helen Mirren 2431 16.3 %
Forest Whitaker 1840 12.4 %
Meryl Streep 1733 11.7 %
Leonardo DiCaprio 1721 11.6 %
Kate Winslet 1504 10.1 %
Judi Dench 1401 9.4 %
Ryan Gosling 1280 8.6 %
Will Smith 1088 7.3 %
Penelope Cruz 1032 6.9 %
Peter O'Toole 845 5.7 %
14875 100.0 %

Source: Nielsen BuzzMetrics

Lifestyle Characteristics of Academy Award Watcher (Scarborough Research)

Scarborough Research, a media and marketing service which measures lifestyle behaviors of American consumers, found that Academy Award watchers are 16% more likely to be female than the national average, and men are 17% less likely to have watched the Academy Awards last year. More than half (57%) of those who have watched the Awards ceremony on TV last year are married, while nearly one-quarter (24%) are single or never married.

Thirty-five percent of all Academy Award watchers typically watch national/network news, and are 36% more likely to watch news magazines. The fact that they are 'news savvy' may further suggest their participation and involvement with voting and politics. 83% of all Academy Award watchers are registered to vote and 76% always vote in presidential elections. The political affiliations of Academy Award watchers is 35% Democrat, 28% Republican, 9% Independent, 9% Independent but feel closer to Democrat, 6% Independent but feel closer to Republican and 14% are not affiliated with any party.

About The Nielsen Company
The Nielsen Company is a global information and media company with leading market positions and recognized brands in marketing information (ACNielsen), media information (Nielsen Media Research), business publications (Billboard, The Hollywood Reporter, Adweek), trade shows and the newspaper sector (Scarborough Research). The privately held company has more than 42,000 employees and is active in more than 100 countries, with headquarters in Haarlem, the Netherlands, and New York, USA. For more information, please visit,

Source: The Nielsen Company

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