Oscar Sunday: Big Night in Hollywood and Online

May I have the envelope please"¦ the award for this past week’s fastest moving website has got to be none other than the official domain of the Academy Awards. On Oscar Sunday, February 24, Oscar.com shot up 601% to 214,410 unique viewers vs. the day before.

As we wrote about last week, thousands were searching forOscar gold earlier this month at Oscar.com, the Wikipedia entries for the Academy Awards, and IMDb’s Road to the Oscars ’08.

Oscar.com delivered this year’s bold performance on somewhat dodgy staging. With the writer’s strike holding back critical advertising and promotion of the awards show until the last minute, television audiences were down 20% versus last year. Yet Oscar.com was down only 6.4%.

Moreover, long term trends between Oscar.com visitors and TV audiences show low correlation. In 2004, for instance, when "Lord of the Rings" won best picture, the Oscars had a 5-year TV audience high while Oscar.com had a record low. Yet in 2007, when TV audiences spiked to see "The Departed" win best picture, visitors also flocked to Oscar.com.

This low correlation implies an online opportunity, yet the Academy is still missing cues online, with no live streaming and video from inside the Awards show restricted to press clips.

Like the never-ending montages, this year’s Oscars channel on YouTube rehashes moments from the vault. Unauthorized footage appearing on YouTube was quickly taken down at the Academy’s request, just like last year when clips of Jack Black and Will Ferrell’s duet racked up huge online viewership, only to be dealt the same fate.

It takes some seriously celebrity-obsessed searching to find those heartfelt acceptance speeches from 2008 online"¦ Over at Oscar.com, there is just a "Thank You Cam" of the winners’ backstage reaction.

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