On Friday, illustrating her appetite for Twitter, DeGeneres announced in a tweet, before the Academy issued its own press release, that she would host the 86th Annual Academy Awards show, “It’s official. I’m hosting the #Oscars!” DeGeneres wrote. “I’d like to thank @TheAcademy, my wife Portia and, oh dear, there goes the orchestra.”
DeGeneres is among the top celebrities in social media. The 55-year-old daytime talk show host boasts more than 21 million followers on Twitter, more than twice as many as NBC’s late-night comedian Jimmy Fallon and seven times as many as ABC’s comedian Jimmy Kimmel.
DeGeneres launched a daytime television talk show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show in September 2003. Her show has consistently risen in the Nielsen ratings and received widespread critical praise. It was nominated for 11 Daytime Emmy Awards in its first season, winning four, including Best Talk Show. The show won 25 Emmy Awards in its first three seasons on the air. DeGeneres is known for her dancing and singing with the audience at the beginning of the show and during commercial breaks. She often gives away free prizes and trips to her studio audience with the help of her sponsors.
In 1997, DeGeneres came out as a lesbian. The bold disclosure of her sexual orientation sparked clamorous interest by American tabloids. Initially, the contentiousness of the media coverage stunted DeGeneres’ professional career and later caused her to soar among fans.
DeGeneres will be making her second appearance as host of the Academy Awards on March 2, 2014, having emceed the ceremony back in 2007. She is just the second female to be a solo host of the Oscars. It wasn’t until Oscar-winner Whoopi Goldberg took the stage in 1994 that a woman hosted without any male at her side. Goldberg went on to host in 1996, ’99 and 2002 as well.
DeGeneres hosted the 79th Academy Awards in 2007, for which she received a Primetime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program. DeGeneres’ syndicated talk show, “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” has earned a total of 45 Daytime Emmys during its 10 seasons.
DeGeneres’ social media proficiency probably was a factor in her selection, advertising executives said. In the last three years, since the emergence of Twitter as an indisputable force, the Academy Awards broadcast has benefited by an uptick in viewership. ABC executives and advertisers credit the surge in viewership to the prominence of social media. People want to watch the Oscars live so they can participate in the real-time conversation unfolding on Twitter and Facebook.
Last year’s Oscars host, Seth MacFarlane, has 4.6 million Twitter followers. More than 40 million people watched the Academy Awards telecast last February, according to Nielsen. The four-plus-hour TV event generated more than 9.5 million comments on social media, said Tom Weeks, senior vice president of LiquidThread, a division of advertising giant Starcom MediaVest Group that specializes in creating cross-platform content for its ad clients.
MacFarlane, the creator of Fox’s animated show “Family Guy” and the coarse movie “Ted” scored highest among recent hosts for “rudeness,” Weeks said. MacFarlane outraged some women during this year’s award ceremony with what some called misogynistic humor, including his song “We Saw Your Boobs.” MacFarlane’s humor drew mixed reviews and he’s already confirmed he has no plans to emcee the show again.
DeGeneres is particularly popular among the Oscar-friendly audience of women under the age of 30. Young women love DeGeneres’ upbeat onscreen demeanor, her messages of anti-bullying and segments during her show in which she helps people in need.
“Ellen was a very smart choice,” Weeks said in an interview. “She is one of the few entertainers who has a broad demographic appeal — very much in the vein of Johnny Carson.”
She gets high marks for her “E-score” that measures consumers’ perceptions of celebrities based on awareness, likability and appeal. DeGeneres scores the highest among recent Oscar hosts for being “most approachable” and “most down to earth.”
Women make up the majority of the audience for the Academy Awards. In advertising circles, the venue is called the “Super Bowl for women.”
DeGeneres will test the power of social media and the increasingly symbiotic relationship between Twitter and television during next year’s Academy Awards telecast.
Twitter trumps other social media in real-time dialogue about TV shows, Weeks said. His firm found that 96% of the conversations about the Oscars in February took place on Twitter. Facebook posts made up the remaining 4% of the comments.
DeGeneres is expected to tweet throughout next year’s telecast, and she might even tap her pint-sized singing and dancing sidekicks — British cousins Sophia Grace and Rosie — whom DeGeneres discovered on YouTube. DeGeneres’ show’s YouTube channel has 6 million subscribers.
On an average day, there are about 11,000 to 12,000 comments on social media about DeGeneres and her show. By noon, four hours after DeGeneres’ announcement, more than 44,000 comments had been registered, according to Trendrr, a private firm that measures social media activity around television.
“We are thrilled to have Ellen DeGeneres host the Oscars,” said Zadan and Meron in a statement. “As a longtime friend, we had always hoped to find a project for us to do together and nothing could be more exciting than teaming up to do the Oscars. There are few stars today who have Ellen’s gift for comedy, with her great warmth and humanity. She is beloved everywhere and we expect that the audience at the Dolby Theatre, and in homes around the globe, will be as excited by this news as we are.”
It’s official, Ellen DeGeneres will host The Academy Awards for the second time. Don’t forget to watch the show and join the live twitter conversation. The Oscars 2014 will air Sunday, March 2, 2014, on ABC.
By: Cherese Jackson (Virginia)