Oscars Telecast Sells Out Ads, Despite Expected Ratings Decline: Live Updates

Credit…Josh Haner/The New York Times

ABC has sold out its advertising inventory for the pandemic-delayed Academy Awards on Sunday, with companies like Google, General Motors, Rolex and Verizon spending an estimated $2 million for each 30-second spot, according to media buyers — only a slight decline from last year’s pricing even though the television audience is expected to be sharply smaller.

Rita Ferro, president of Disney Advertising Sales, which sells ads on Disney-owned ABC, announced the sellout. She declined to comment on pricing or say how much revenue Disney will generate from the telecast. Last year, the Oscars pulled in about $129 million across 56 ads, according to Kantar Media, a research firm. (A red-carpet preshow attracted $16.3 million across 42 ads.)

Additional revenue comes from “integrations” and other sponsorships. For the first time, for instance, ABC will have a sponsor for closed-captioning (Google). The upshot: ABC’s revenue for the telecast is estimated to have declined only 3 to 5 percent from last year — a tiny drop compared with the expected 50 to 60 percent decline in viewing.

The ceremony is “one of those big cultural moments,” Andrew McKechnie, Verizon’s chief creative officer, said of the company’s decision to buy ad space. “The broadcast this year will be a bit different,” he acknowledged, “but the event will still be an impactful one and an important one for us to show up in.”

Last year, about 23.6 million people watched “Parasite” win the Academy Award for best picture, according to Nielsen data. That was a 20 percent drop from the previous year and a record low. On Sunday, nine million to 12 million people are expected to tune in.

Audiences have been turning away from awards telecasts for years, but ratings have nose-dived during the pandemic. Without live audiences, the shows have been drained of their energy. Big studios have also postponed major movies, leaving this year’s awards scene to downbeat art films.

ABC does not guarantee an audience size to Oscar advertisers, thus removing any potential for so-called make-goods — additional commercial time at a later date — if ratings tumble.

ABC has been able to keep ad rates high in part because of the fragmentation of television viewing. Oscars night is a shadow of its former self — it attracted 57 million viewers in 1998 — but still pulls in one of the largest audiences on broadcast television, certainly for a nonsports telecast. New advertisers this year include Apartments.com and Freshpet dog and cat food. Expedia and Adidas have bought commercial time to introduce new campaigns.

“We’re very pleased with where we are,” Ms. Ferro said, citing “the quantity, the caliber and the diversity of the advertisers in the show.”

A bitcoin ATM in an Istanbul shopping mall. Many Turks have turned to cryptocurrencies as a hedge against inflation.
Credit…Chris Mcgrath/Getty Images

A cryptocurrency exchange in Turkey suspended operations this week amid accusations of fraud, freezing an estimated $2 billion in investors’ money, and authorities said they were seeking the company’s founder.

Turkish authorities raided offices in Istanbul associated with Thodex, a cryptocurrency trading platform, on Friday morning and arrested more than 60 people, the private news agency Demiroren reported.

Thodex’s 27-year-old founder, Faruk Fatih Ozer, left Turkey for Albania on Tuesday, Turkish authorities said, who added that they were seeking his extradition.

The cryptocurrency firm has nearly 400,000 active users whose accounts were nominally worth a total of $2 billion, according to Oguz Evren Kilic, a lawyer in Ankara who is representing Thodex investors. If their money has gone missing, the losses would add another element of instability to Turkey’s already shaky economy.

Living standards in Turkey suffer from double-digit inflation and a wobbly currency. Though cryptocurrencies are inherently risky, many Turks have turned to them as a way to protect their savings as the Turkish lira lost more than one-quarter of its value against the dollar in the last year.

Last week, Turkey’s central bank banned the use of cryptocurrencies for purchases, citing the “significant risks” involved.

Thodex had promoted itself with ads that featured female Turkish celebrities dressed in bright red outfits and draped over a highly polished black automobile.

“For sure the economic situation has an affect on this,” Mr. Kilic, the lawyer, said in an interview. “In such times of crisis, people want to diminish the loss of value of the assets they have.”

The sagging lira has raised the cost of imported goods and fueled inflation, leading to a steady erosion in living standards. In March, the annual rate of inflation was 16 percent, according to official figures, which many economists say understate the true rate.

In a statement on Thodex’s website, Mr. Ozer, the firm’s founder, insisted he had left the country merely to consult with foreign investors and would return. He said the accusations were a “smear campaign” and blamed the shutdown of the trading platform on a cyberattack.

Thodex “has not victimized anyone,” he said, adding that only about 30,000 accounts “have a suspicious situation.”

Mr. Kilic noted that none of Thodex’s customers could gain access to their accounts. “If you cannot access the account, then you are a victim,” he said.

On Twitter, people reacted to a statement from Thodex with crying face emojis. “There are people who trust and invest everything in you,” one user wrote.

Volkswagen’s new electric ID.4. The company is investing $80 billion to develop E.V.s.
Credit…Bryan Derballa for The New York Times

As many as 100 new electric vehicle models are coming to showrooms by 2025 as automakers insist we’re “this close” to an E.V. tipping point.

But outside of Tesla, the American record for sales of an electric vehicles is the mere 30,200 Leafs that Nissan sold in 2014. A single gasoline sport utility vehicle, the Toyota RAV4, finds well over 400,000 annual buyers, compared with roughly 250,000 sales last year for all E.V.s combined — 200,000 of which were Teslas, Lawrence Ulrich reports for The New York Times.

Globally, Volkswagen is poised to pass Tesla as the world’s biggest electric vehicle seller as early as next year, according to Deutsche Bank, with Europe and China its key markets. In the United States, where the brand remains an underdog, VW and other legacy automakers are concentrating fire on the sales fortress of compact S.U.V.s.

The latest electric-S.U.V. hopefuls to reach showrooms are the VW ID.4, Ford Mustang Mach-E and Volvo XC40 Recharge. The Nissan Ariya, BMW iX and Cadillac Lyriq are set to arrive between late 2021 and next March.

Homes typically sold in 18 days in March, according to the National Association of Realtors.
Credit…Ted Shaffrey/Associated Press

The median sale price of an existing home in the United States was $329,100 in March, up 17.2 percent from a year earlier, when a 3 to 5 percent annual increase is considered healthy, according to a report from the National Association of Realtors, a trade group.

Nationwide, housing inventory was at 1.07 million units at the end of March, just above its record low of 1.03 million the prior month and down 28.2 percent from a year earlier, according to the group.

As a result, homes typically sold in 18 days, a record speed. Normally, 60 days is typical, Lawrence Yun, the group’s chief economist, told Stefanos Chen of The New York Times.

When the housing market peaks will depend largely on where you live and how the pandemic continues to reorder buyer priorities, but it will hinge on two trends: rising mortgage rates and incredibly tight inventory in some markets, which will likely keep demand strong through the rest of 2021, even as price growth moderates, several analysts said.

In Manhattan, where commercial real estate was battered and home buyers fanned outward to surrounding suburbs in search of affordability and more space, the sales market fell off at the beginning of the pandemic but appears to have turned the corner.

“The rate at which homes are selling nationally is not sustainable, but in New York, the uptick is just getting started,” said Nancy Wu, an economist for StreetEasy, a listing website.

In the week ending April 11, there were 783 new signed contracts citywide, the highest since the company began tracking weekly pending sales in 2019, when the peak was 491 contracts, she said.

U.S. stock were expected to rise when trading begins on Friday, following a drop on Thursday after reports that the Biden administration was considering nearly doubling capital gains taxes and other taxes on the rich to fund child care and education projects.

Most European stock indexes were lower. The Stoxx Europe 600 index was down 0.6 percent even as data showed an improvement in manufacturing and services industries in April across the eurozone.

The S&P 500 was set to open 0.3 percent higher, futures indicated, after a 0.9 percent drop on Thursday. So far this week, the benchmark index has fallen 1.2 percent. It would be the first weekly decline in five weeks.

  • The bill for Britain’s pandemic response is starting to become clear: In the 12 months through March, government borrowing was 303.1 billion pounds (about $421 billion), up from £57 billion the previous year, according to an estimate by the Office for National Statistics. It’s the most since records began in 1947. And at 14.5 percent of G.D.P., it’s the highest since the end of World War II.

  • As tax receipts fell, the government spent hundreds of billions of pounds on emergency support programs, including furlough. But the borrowing estimate is still smaller than previously forecast by the Office for Budget Responsibility, an independent fiscal watchdog.

  • The borrowing data doesn’t account for any losses the government might incur from business loan programs, so the final figure is likely to be larger.

  • Retail sales rose 4.9 percent in March, far outpacing economists’ forecasts for a 2 percent increase, separate data showed, while the manufacturing and services industry also picked up further in April.

  • The FTSE 100 fell 0.6 percent, headed for a 1.6 percent decline this week.

  • Shares in Snap rose 6 percent in premarket trading after the maker of Snapchat reported revenue and user growth above Wall Street expectations in the first quarter.

  • Intel shares fell nearly 3 percent after the chip maker reported a significant drop in its profit margin in the first quarter. Last month, the company said it would build two new factories and double down on chip manufacturing, even as its lost ground to rival companies.


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