Oscars 2013: Why Did the Telecast Run So Long?

Oscars timing

Sunday night’s 85th Academy Awards clocked in at three hours and 35 minutes. While this was hardly the longest single Oscars ceremony — that distinction still belongs to 2002’s epic four-hour and 20-minute telecast, which saw epic Gladiator awarded with Best Picture — the show’s lag was undeniable to anyone hoping for a sprightly Monday morning at work. After all, Sunday’s telecast long surpassed last year’s tight three-hour and nine-minute runtime and 2011’s three-hour and 16-minute showing, officially putting an end to any recent efforts to keep awards shows within a three-hour schedule. 

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Still, it’s not immediately clear what was responsible for Oscar’s long runtime. While host Seth MacFarlane‘s monologue passed the 15-minute mark, speeches were short and sweet. And there was nary a Lifetime achievement award to occupy the bulk of the ceremony. 

So who was the drawing out the 2013 Oscars ceremony? Turns out the biggest culprit of the night wasn’t the Family Guy creator (who appeared to occupy our screens more than Quvenzhané Wallis occupied our hearts). Instead, the night’s presenters accounted for a total of 59 minutes and 10 seconds of the Oscar ceremony, taking up 34 percent of the telecast. (Speeches, on the other hand, took up just 23 percent of the evening, while MacFarlane sat at 22 percent.)

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That’s right — we could have enjoyed a much-shorter telecast had the Oscars cut off the banter that curiously remained in the script after Sunday’s show began to run over. In fact, two of the longest presenters of the evening, Jack Nicholson and Michelle Obama — who took three minutes and 49 seconds to present Argo with Best Picture — even closed out the awards. But the Oscar for longest presenters of the evening belongs to the reunited Chicago cast, who, between two categories, spoke at the podium for five minutes and 12 seconds. (The shortest presenters? Melissa McCarthy and Paul Rudd, whose banter was so painful, it felt like it lasted far longer than just 40 seconds.)

How did the rest of the evening’s timing shake out? See some more vital stats below!

MacFarlane’s Total Time on Stage: 38 minutes, 21 seconds

MacFarlane’s Monologue Runtime: 17 minutes, 14 seconds

MarFarlane’s Non-Monologue Banter Runtime: 11 minutes, 7 seconds

Total Runtime — Speeches: 40 minutes

Longest Speech: 4 minutes, 14 seconds (Ben Affleck for Argo, Best Picture)

Shortest Speech: 48 seconds (Jacqueline Durran for Anna Karenina, Costume Design)

Average Length of Speech: 1 minute, 40 seconds

Average Length of Presenter at Podium: 1 minute, 41 seconds

Total Runtime — Montages: 15 minutes, 8 seconds

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Total Runtime — Musical Performances at 2012 Oscars: 3 minutes, 42 seconds (Esperanza Spalding’s “In Memoriam” tribute)

Total Runtime — Musical Performances at 2013 Oscars: 21 minutes, 5 seconds

Longest Performance: 3 minutes, 54 seconds (Adele, “Skyfall”)

Shortest Performance: 1 minute, 40 seconds (Norah Jones, “Everybody Needs a Best Friend”)

In Memoriam Runtime: 3 minutes, 21 seconds

Barbra Streisand Performance Runtime: 3 minutes, 23 seconds

Time Oscars Could Have Saved If They Had Combined Both: 3 minutes, 22 seconds

Total Runtime — Bond Tribute: 6 minutes, 7 seconds

Total Runtime — Musicals Tribute: 12 minutes, 7 seconds

Length of 2013 Oscars without Musical Performances: 3 hours, 13 minutes

Length of 2013 Oscars without Montages, Musical Performances, and MacFarlane’s Stage Banter: 2 hours, 37 minutes

Cuts That Would Have Allowed Oscars 2013 to End on Time: 3 minutes from monologue, 30 seconds from each speech and presenter, and 6 seconds from Seth’s non-monologue banter

[Image Credit: Matt Sayles/AP Images]

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