The Academy Awards has been billed as “Hollywood’s biggest night,” and this year, show producers are putting $5.5 million toward a new social media-heavy campaign to make sure it stays that way.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, airing its Oscar show on ABC Sunday, Feb. 22, reportedly hatched a plan to spend the next month taking over social platforms (largely Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) to promote the telecast.

According to a report obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, Oscar producers are beginning to worry that ratings may fall this year due to less obvious blockbuster hits contending for Best Picture and a slightly less socially inclined host. Ellen DeGeneres, last year’s Oscars host, boasts 37.4 million followers on Twitter alone (@TheEllenShow), and more than 8 million on Instagram.

And while 2015 host Neil Patrick Harris’ 12.7 million Twitter followers (@ActuallyNPH) are nothing to sneeze at, producers are worried that without a daily talk show like Ellen to promote the show, ratings might lag.

Harris does have a recently released autobiography, a celebrated stint on Broadway, a role in one of the most talked-about movies of the year (Gone Girl) and plenty of love for his long-running stint as Tonys host, all of which makes him pretty promotable as well.

Another issue is that most of the movies being mentioned as Best Picture contenders—Boyhood, Birdman, The Theory of Everything, The Imitation Game, Foxcatcher and Selma —are small releases seen by relatively few people.

The Academy hopes to use that expanded social presence to convince viewers to choose the Oscars over Sunday night contenders The Walking Dead and Downton Abbey, along with HBO and Showtime’s Sunday night schedules.

Read more at The Hollywood Reporter.

Brief Take: The Academy has a tough bar to raise with 45 million viewers tuning in last year, but NPH just might be the one to do it.

[Image courtesy of ABC]

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