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The Oscars Vs. SuperBowl

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A graphic about the money involved in both the SuperBowl and Academy Awards

Two of television’'s most beloved annual events are the Super Bowl and the Oscars. But how does one event, which culminates the football season, stack up against the other, which celebrates excellence in film? Both events came from (relatively) humble roots. Super Bowl one, held in 1967, had a ticket price of $10 and an attendance of about 61, 946. The first Oscars, held in 1929, had a ticket price of $5 and was attended by 250 people. (If you’re curious about who won these inaugural events, the Green Bay Packers won the first Super Bowl while the silent film “Wings” won the first Best Picture statuette).

Compare those modest figures to the 2010 numbers and you might be shocked: the Super Bowl was the most watched event in television history, with nearly 111 million viewers. The Oscar ceremony for 2010 was also a great draw, attracting 41.3 million viewers.

The Cost of Hype

Everyone talks about the wit, cleverness, and hype surrounding Super Bowl ads – but they definitely come with a price. An ad for Super Bowl XLV cost $3 million for a mere 30 seconds. To give you an idea of how much this costs each company:

Snickers would have to sell 6,329,406 candy bars to pay for a $3 million ad;

Bridgestone would have to sell 298,656 tires; and

Skechers (SKX) would have to sell 205,339 pairs of shoes.

So by comparison, the advertising cost for the 2010 Oscars seems downright cheap at $1.7 million per 30-second spot.

The Cost of Victory

What about the rewards that are offered to winners of each competition? How much does a Super Bowl ring cost when compared to an Oscar statuette? On average, the NFL shells out $1,125,000 each year for Super Bowl championship rings – $750,000 to the winning team and $375,000 to the losers. That is the cost of 150 rings for each team. If you’d like to snap one up for your own collection, you can bet on spending at least $40,000. That’s the cost of a Jostens-made Super Bowl ring being sold by an anonymous member of the 1997 Green Bay Packers –free shipping and original wooden box included!

On the other hand, each Oscar ceremony costs about $25,000 in statuettes. Each one costs about $500 to make, and about 50 are ordered each year. Michael Jackson made the most expensive Oscar purchase in history, when he paid $1.54 million for David O. Selznick’s Best Picture Oscar.

The Cost of Disaster

With so much money tied up into each annual event, you would think that the cost of postponing one or canceling one would be astronomical indeed. In fact, the Super Bowl has never been canceled to date.

The Oscars has been postponed, but never canceled. The three events that caused postponement were:

  • Flooding
  • The Martin Luther King, Jr. assassination
  • The attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan

The Cost of Bets

These annual events are also a huge draw to the betting crowd, with millions being wagered on possible outcomes every year. The Vegas sports books – 183 in all – totaled bets at around $87.5 million on this year’s Super Bowl. But it’s not just football that draws the crowd. Last year $41 million was wagered in Vegas on the film “Slumdog Millionaire.”

These television events aren’t just about excellence in football or film. They are multi-million dollar entities that flood the economy with cash. From their modest beginnings, they have definitely become two major financial happenings that we can look forward to every year.