Sans Blockbusters, Oscar Scrambles to Build Buzz

Broadcast's ratings decline isn't helped by snub to Dark Knight
By Jim O'Neill,  Newser User
Posted Feb 2, 2009 9:49 AM CST
Oscar-nominated actor Mickey Rourke arrives at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival on Saturday.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Producers of the Academy Awards are scrambling to add twists to a broadcast whose ratings decline won’t be helped by the lack of a blockbuster among the best-picture nominees, the New York Times reports. With the five nominees totaling less than half the box office of snubbed Dark Knight, sources say there’ll be more features aimed directly at the viewing audience.

The US audience for the show dropped to 32 million viewers last year, an all-time low, prompting ABC to lower its 30-second commercial rate nearly 18%, to $1.4 million, for the Feb. 22 broadcast. Among possible tweaks this year: keeping some stars off the red carpet to entice viewers for the actual Oscar broadcast, and keeping the identities of award presenters a secret.