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Will 82nd Annual Academy Awards Drive More Viewers?

Lauren Eichmann

Declining viewership of the Oscars over the past few years -- with only a slight uptick in ratings in 2009 -- has led the Academy Awards to change it up this year. Some alterations implemented by the show's producers, as well as controversial news surrounding some of the nominees, have led to increased exposure in the media.

Let's take a look at how some of these changes have complemented the Academy's PR and media initiatives, and also enhanced its word-of-mouth marketing surrounding Sunday night's show.

The News: Ten Best Picture Nominees

Back in June, the Academy Awards announced that instead of the traditional five  Best Picture nominees, it would be bumped up to ten. 

What It Means: While the Academy says it made the decision so more films could be noticed, in reality it's all about the ratings. Building up the hype surrounding so many movies puts the Academy in a good position come Sunday night on ABC. After all, if you've seen a particular film, you're more likely to tune in to see whether it will win. When "Titanic" took home the Best Picture Oscar in 1998, for example, more than 57 million people watched.

The News: The 82nd Academy Awards Will Have Two Hosts

Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin will serve as co-hosts for this year's Academy Awards. The last time the Oscars featured more than one host was back in 1987 when Chevy Chase, Goldie Hawn and Paul Hogen hosted it. According to Robert Dougherty's Associated Content article, "the two hosts of the 2010 Oscars have certainly added intrigue to an otherwise predictable Oscar night. There is a curiosity factor for certain..."

What It Means: These two hosts are sure to draw in viewers. The fact that it hasn't been done since 1987 adds a certain appeal, and supports the idea that double the nominees (for Best Picture) requires double the hosts. Advertising and marketing campaigns have followed suit, boasting the phrase, "You've Never Seen Oscar Like This."

The News:  "Aggressive Campaigner" Punished

On March 2, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced that one of the four producers for "The Hurt Locker" -- Nicolas Chartier -- would be denied admission to the Kodak Theater as a repercussion for violating Academy rules that stipulate a nominee cannot cast "a negative or derogatory light on a competing film." After specifically disparaging a contending film, "Avatar", Chartier likewise encouraged Academy voters to vote for "The Hurt Locker."

What It Means: While this news potentially cast a negative light on "The Hurt Locker", with one celebrity blogger even indicating that it was such "snobbery" that turns her off to the Oscars, it in fact seemed to do quite the opposite. The news got people talking, added an element of controversy to the Academy Awards and supported the goal to raise awareness about the nominated films. Chartier's apology letter likewise garnered media attention, saying that his "naivety, ignorance of the rules and plain stupidity" led him to write to the Academy members.

Previous Numbers, Projected Numbers generated a chart of Academy Award viewership, based on Nielsen Media Research.

This year, the Academy Awards are projected to be bigger than previous years. What's your projection of viewership tonight? Will it exceed 41 million, which is an approximately 14 percent increase from last year (the increase boasted for this year's Golden Globes)?   

Will you (or did you) tune in Sunday night? If so, let us know what motivated you to watch!