NBA All-Star Game vs. Academy Awards: Does Basketball Have a Chance?
When the NBA selected Orlando to host the 2012 All-Star Game, the league announced the contest would be played on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2012. Commissioner David Stern made the announcement on May 4, 2010, years before any other event was scheduled for that distant Sunday in early 2012.
Less than a year later, on Feb. 20, 2011, Daytona International Speedway President Joie Chitwood III announced the NASCAR racing season kickoff event would also occur on Feb. 26, though the NASCAR event will be a mid-day affair while the NBA All-Star Game will occur Sunday evening.
This isn't the first time the Daytona 500 and NBA All-Star Game have bookended a Sunday in February, so the two entities appear to have somewhat of an understanding and accordingly ensure they do not compete for viewership.
Apparently, that understanding does not extend outside of the sports world.
Last into the mix and as if to spurn sports, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences also selected Feb. 26, 2012 as their choice for the 84th Academy Awards presentation. That announcement came on April 26, 2011 and means that Sunday will mark the first time the NBA All-Star Game has ever competed against the Academy Awards.
The 2012 NBA All-Star Game's pregame show begins at 6:00 pm ET. Opening tip is scheduled for 7:30 pm.
Meanwhile, the Oscar's Red Carpet arrival show will begin at 7:00 pm, with the 84th Academy Awards kicking off at 8:30 pm, providing plenty of overlap between Hollywood's biggest night and the NBA's annual showcase event.
The only question is with two high-profile events competing for views, who, if anyone, wins?
The NBA All-Star Game and Daytona 500 have competed with other big-name programs before.
In 2010, the All-Star Game and Daytona 500 took place on separate weeks, but both events were up against the Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver: That year, the All-Star Game scored a 3.8 Nielsen rating (6.9 million viewers), while the Daytona 500 captured a 7.7 Nielsen rating and 13.3 million viewers.
For the NBA, that was down nine percent from the All-Star game's 7.62 million viewers in 2009.
In 2011, both events ran at different times on Sunday, Feb. 20 and, without having to compete with the Olympics or any other event, they both saw an increase in viewership. The 2011 NBA All-Star Game scored a 5.2 Nielsen rating with 9.1 million viewers while the Daytona 500 registered an 8.7 Nielsen rating with 15.6 million viewers.
With NASCAR in the clear on Sunday, it all comes down to a battle of Hollywood vs. showtime sports—Moneyball vs. basketball.
The NBA All-Star game with its 9.1 million viewers in 2011 will have a real challenge on its hands: The Academy Awards raked in 37.6 million viewers with a 24.6 household rating last year, and that figure was down nearly 10 percent from Oscar's performance in 2010.
Critics blamed the disastrous efforts of hosts James Franco and Anne Hathaway for the decreased viewership and the Academy was clearly listening.
How will the NBA fare against the Academy Awards during this lockout-shortened 2012 season's All-Star Game?
In selecting Billy Crystal to host the 2012 Awards, the Academy has selected arguably their best master of ceremonies to try and get back that 10 percent drop off—and then some.
Crystal has hosted the Academy Awards eight times and was last used in 2004 in a successful attempt to revive what had the potential of becoming a stagnant service of a show. Simply put, he is considered by many to be the best Hollywood has to offer and is accordingly their go-to-guy.
On the other side of things, the NBA has to contend with a lingering lockout fallout and a Los Angeles-dominated West starting lineup: Will the City of Angels tune into a basketball event from Florida or will Angelinos opt for their local industry's annual awards show?
Does the intrigue of a Kobe Bryant-Blake Griffin alley-oop connection supersede the anticipation of finding out which artist won an Oscar for best makeup? Are LeBron James and Dwight Howard a better tag team than Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin (Moneyball)?
Forced into a corner by a late-coming Academy Awards show, the NBA is banking on it.
The All-Star game is set to wrap up at 10:00 pm and the Academy Awards will run until 11:30 pm—and nobody really watches the Oscars until they get to Best Picture, right?
Gil Imber is Bleacher Report's Rules Featured Columnist and owner of Close Call Sports, a website dedicated to the objective and fair analysis of close or controversial calls in sports.
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