NEW YORK – Tinseltown has given ABC a golden gift — by moving the 2004 Oscars to February.
That means that the Oscars, which have aired in March since 1989, will give ABC a ratings and promotional boost during the February sweeps period.
That, in turn, could translate into big bucks — since the sweeps are used to determine advertising rates.
"This is something that's been discussed between the academy and ABC," said Leslie Unger, spokeswoman for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.
"There are several motivations, including the notion that, with the show at the end of March, those films are three months removed from when they first opened.
"With the Oscars in February, that certainly could translate into an additional level of enthusiasm into watching the [Oscar] telecast."
Unger said the academy's board voted last week to see if it is "feasible" to move the Oscars to February in 2004.
That would be sweet music to ABC's ears, since the network finished the Feb. '02 sweeps in last place on its way to a disastrous prime-time season.
While the Oscars don't come close to equaling Super Bowl viewership in terms of sheer numbers, they are a traditional TV staple.
But ratings for the Oscars have been falling. Last year's Oscarcast snagged 42 million viewers on ABC — the lowest numbers in five years and the lowest-rated Oscarcast in history.
ABC officials has no comment.