Academy Awards are Star Movies' March blockbuster

The verdict is out.

The hopes and hype surrounding the Indian entry to the 74th Academy Awards ensured Star Movies a viewership for the live event unprecedented in earlier years. The channel, which has been telecasting the event for five years, says this has been the best yet.

Not surprising. Ratings from the audience measurement agencies, just in, show that Indian viewers rose early and bright on 25 March to catch the excitement that began at 6:30 am. According to INTAM figures, Kolkata led the country's metros with a viewership of 4.39 (TG 4+, C&S). Bangalore followed with TVRs of 2.18. Mumbai, the seat of Bollywood, however, ran a distant third with TVRs of 1.77.

Weekday and office hour obstacles notwithstanding, the event, preceded by a nearly month long on air and ground promotional activity, managed to bring in the moolah for Star Movies. Star had mass promoted the hitherto niche programme, using Lagaan as a peg to build the Star Movies brand.

The ploy worked. All 30 minutes of ad time on the three and half hour live broadcast of the ceremony were sold out. Besides, four of the nine main sponsors of the live show were mass marketers like Pepsi, Parle, Asian Paints and Bajaj. Other channels like HBO and BBC World ran Hollywood specials as a run-up to the event; the benefits of which were cashed in upon by Star.

Other cities have not fared badly either. Chennai with TVRs of 1.35 and Delhi with TVRs of 1.12 helped shore up the ratings. One million plus towns in Gujarat, Maharashtra and Karnataka too scored ratings above 1, a fair figure for such niche events, say analysts.

Figures put out by the other rating agency, AC Nielsen's TAM ratings, are not as effusive though. Kolkata leads with TVRs of 2.8 (TG C&S 4+) and Mumbai follows with TVRs of 1.14. According to TAM, Oscar viewership was better among the C&S 15-44 AB category, Kolkata leading with 3.91, and Mumbai following with 2.2. While the overall TVRs for the six metros hover around 1.81, most other cities have not been able to cross the magic TVR figure of 1.

Lagaan - the element that sparked Indian interest in the Oscars

In the US, though, the picture's not so bright. The Oscars drew a 25.4 Nielsen Media Research rating on Sunday, the lowest-rated Academy Awards telecast ever, with just 41.8 million viewers, say reports. Last year’s show had the previous low record.

Lagaan has just reversed the trend in India. Will it hold in the coming years?

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