oscars

The Worst Place in the World for a Big Live Global TV Audience

In a nice piece from Marina Hyde in today’s Guardian, she links to a New Yorker piece from a few years ago that disavows the idea that a billion people might watch the Oscars.

Starting from the fact that only 15% of Americans watch their own movie awards, it seems incredibly unlikely that the numbers could get near to one billion.

But I think it’s simpler than that, and it’s the reason that the Super Bowl is never going to have true global appeal. America is just in the wrong place in relation to the international dateline for major events.

That’s particularly the case for those that happen on a Sunday and are aimed at a US TV audience: the Oscars and Super Bowl being the most obvious.

America times events for the east coast where the population is largest, although with some consideration of those on the west coast. So the Super Bowl this year, taking place in New York, was timed to start at 1830 ET/1530 PT. That allows the network to air the game and the post-game show, and still give a boost to that network’s own shows in the valuable post-Super Bowl slot around 2200 ET.

But 18:30 ET is 2330 GMT/UTC. So for British viewers you’re looking at a 0300 finish on a Monday morning. For most of Western Europe that’s 0400.

By the time you’ve reached the Middle East or West Africa, the game has finished 0600 on Monday morning. I guess NFL fans could get up early?

In India the game doesn’t finish until something like 0830 in the morning, while in China and Indonesia, the game is ending sometime around 1100 in the middle of a working day, while many in Australia can perhaps catch the post-game presentations during their lunch break at 1300.

Given the Americas make up somewhere around 14% of the world’s population, that means that 86% of the world is having to make an enormous effort to watch any event timed principally for US television.

Compare and contrast with the upcoming World Cup final in Brazil. That game will kick-off at 1700 local time (1500 ET) to facilitate 2000/2100 start times in Europe. Sure – Asia still loses out, but Europe is where FIFA generates its cash. And with the final most likely to be contested by countries from the Americas, Europe or possibly Africa, fans of competing times are likely to be awake when the game takes place.

So all in all, another reason that a billion people won’t be watching the Oscars.

And of course, I won’t be watching.

[NB. Yes, I realise that many global news and entertainment outlets will report on the awards, and perhaps include clips. However, to what extent the populations of India or China are interested in how American Hustle and Gravity perform still remains unclear to me.]