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Media companies bring Academy Awards to digital audiences

The envelope, please.

The words stoke excitement in the hearts of movie lovers worldwide on Academy Awards Sunday. And savvy media companies found ways to create and extend audiences well beyond those planted in front of televisions on Oscars night.

Of course, sunny star-studded Los Angeles is the global hub for the pageantry, and each year the Los Angeles Times has upped its Oscars game a bit more. This year, its online offering was nothing short of gold for those who don’t live in the Times’ home delivery area.

On one’s mobile phone, tablet, or desktop, a viewer could partake in a stunning photo and video display of red carpet arrivals and download an at-home ballot to play along. One could play Oscars bingo, view film trailers, read LA Times reviews of contenders – and click down as deep as she wanted to learn about Marion Cotillard, nominee for Best Actress in “Two Days, One Night.”

She could watch exclusive video interviews with Reese Witherspoon, another Best Actress nominee for “Wild,” then read reviews and feature stories about the book that inspired the movie. She could play an interactive game, “Could you win an Oscar? Play and find out.”

The Oscars page is cleanly designed yet features prominent advertising for sponsors such as AT&T and Discover. The LA Times also published a visually beautiful 56-page colour tab called “The Envelope,’’ which was available to all Tribune newspapers as well as a handful of non-Tribune properties.

On the opposite coast of the United States, The New York Times, of course, featured the Academy Awards on its home page. And its customers could also click on a full coverage tab for a live blog, red carpet looks, a ballot, and a fun read called “Oscar Films for All Personalities,” such as “The Procrastinator,” “Contrarian,” “Cool Hunter,” and “The Musician.”

Savvy Facebook had skin in the game too, with its helpful aggregation of all Oscar-related comments, shared links, and photos from my Facebook family of friends. And on the Academy Awards official site, one could view fabulous tweets from Oscar nominees, performers, and attendees, and live stream the event from ABC, from the carpet to the conclusion.

The overarching point is, media consumers expect and, yes, demand to be “a part” of big events, whether the Oscars in Los Angeles or a beloved three-on-three street basketball tournament in your community. It’s imperative that, as media professionals, we turn to the digital natives on our staffs, with an eye toward what is innovative, interactive, and fun.

We’ll always deliver the envelope in our print editions. But we can make the day and night much more memorable for those who are used to having their voices heard, even if virtually.

About Kathleen Coleman

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