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Oscars 2014 will move to March to avoid Winter Olympics

Next year, the Academy Awards will be moved to March for one year only, the Oscars-hosting ABC and the motion picture academy announced Monday.

The move to March steers the trophy show clear of the closing ceremonies of the 2014 Winter Olympics, which will be broadcast on NBC.

Although there had been some reports that the trophy show would move to a January airdate, ABC and the academy said the show was back to the traditional final Sunday in February for the 87th annual Oscars in 2015.

ABC pays a hefty sum for the rights to broadcast the Oscars, and it would naturally prefer to have the event as part of its February “sweeps” ratings arsenal – especially with the awards franchise on the rebound, ratings-wise.

Although most TV critics hated this year’s Seth MacFarlane-hosted Academy Awards, about 40 million viewers lapped it up, making it the most-watched entertainment program on TV in nearly three years.

Even more important to ABC: That Oscarcast scored a nearly three-year record among viewers between the ages of 18 and 49, who are the currency of TV ad sales. In particular, the show jumped 34 percent year-to-year among 18- to 34-year-old men, who are the elusive unicorns of the ad world.

The academy had been stabbing about for several years, trying to figure out how to lure young viewers back to the trophy show. That led to the disastrous 2011 ceremony in which Anne Hathaway co-hosted the show with James “Phone It In” Franco, which wound up doing worse with viewers their age than the ceremony that had oldsters Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin the previous year.

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