question of the day: How could the Oscar telecast draw more viewers?

Mary McNamara, the television critic at the Los Angeles Times, today offers some advice to the producers of the Oscars regarding ratings. Her reasoning: Last weekend’s Super Bowl drew a huge audience of more than 106 million people, making it the most watched broadcast in U.S. history. Since the Oscar telecast have been hurting in the ratings department in recent years — it’s generally agreed among awards watchers that the reason the Academy expanded the Best Picture nominees from 5 to 10 this year was in the hopes that blockbuster nominees would draw more viewers — why not put some of that Super Bowl magic to work on the Academy Awards ceremony?
McNamara’s advice is clearly tongue-in-cheek — she doesn’t outright suggest that Jeremy Renner tackle Morgan Freeman when it comes time to announce Best Actor, but she comes close — and only one of her suggestions is even close to feasible: Get better ads. (Except that’s a chicken-and-egg thing: no advertiser is going to spend the kind of money to produce an Oscar ad that it spends on a Super Bowl ad until the Oscars are guaranteed to draw 100 million viewers. Yet even the most watched Oscars of the last 20 years, in 1998, drew only 57 million viewers.)

What would it genuinely take to make the Oscars as much of an event as the Super Bowl? Is that even possible? How could the Oscar telecast draw more viewers? What would you want to see during the Academy Awards ceremony that would make it more enjoyable?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTD sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)

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