As the NFL schedule is announced, should the Oscars take note?

Posted by · 3:18 pm · April 17th, 2012

After revealing which teams would play each other in the 2012 football season a few months back, the NFL has just announced the official schedule with dates via a prime time special on the NFL Network. (I plan to be in DC for the Falcons in October, thank you.)

It got me thinking. Why debut this kind of thing at 7pm ET and miss the day’s news cycle entirely? The answer, of course, is ratings, monetizing the information and its dissemination. And suddenly it occurred to me: Should the Academy take a similar tack in revealing its annual list of Oscar nominees?

This isn’t a new idea. The concept of transforming the nominations announcement into a prime time special has been whispered about for years. Recently, the LA Times’ Patrick Goldstein offered up his thoughts on the idea back before this year’s Oscarcast and David Poland voiced his approval. Goldstein even mentioned sports in his piece to further his point.

“In today’s pop culture, anything that has any air of anticipation is a potential TV event,” he wrote. “Look at sports, where everything from the NBA and NFL draft to the announcement of the MLB all-star game selections is packaged and presented as a TV show. Even the Heisman Trophy, given to the best college football player, is presented in prime time on ESPN, where last December’s award pulled in 4.6 million viewers.”

Most of the time, Goldstein’s ideas for bettering the Oscar trajectory are incredibly disheartening stabs at dumbing things down and removing the prestige out of things. This, however, was an idea that took the best of those worlds and, well, two months later, I approve, too.

The Academy has been bending over backwards to generate ratings for its annual awards telecast by going against the organization’s own grain and unfortunately stripping itself of identity with various manipulations of the Best Picture category. But while the yearly exercise of announcing the nominees at the crack of dawn has been aimed at capturing the news cycle early on the east coast and dominating it all day long, one has to wonder what that’s really doing for the bottom line.

The news of the nominees will be as big an item the day following a prime time special as it is now, with the added benefit of advertising dollars (that are usually lost to various networks that televise the announcement) pouring in. And keep it a reveal kind of thing, only available on the show. The NFL schedule, for example, is available right now online as the NFL Network analysts dig into it on the air. Whenever the Oscar nods are announced each year, a lot of people don’t even watch and just go right to the official site to get the scoop. But if the only place to go is the prime time special…

Think about it. You have a problem with ratings. Rather than chip away at the integrity of one show, add another and market the hell out of it. I’m sure ABC would be happy to air it and get a big boost of advertising for the Oscarcast out of it. You get TWO chunks of night time program to pimp movie stars and get viewers as a result. If there’s a downside, I’m not seeing it.

For year-round entertainment news and awards season commentary follow @kristapley on Twitter.

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