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Grammys’ ratings off-key

The Grammy Awards hit a flat Nielsen note on Tuesday, as viewers puckered up for episodes of “Roseanne” and “NYPD Blue,” as well as the NBC special “Ancient Prophecies.”

CBS’ three-hour Grammycast finished second behind ABC’s lineup for the night, averaging a 16.1 rating, 24 share — down 20% compared to last year to rank as the second-lowest-rated version of the music special in two decades, topping only the 16.0/26 recorded in 1989.

Those results put the Grammys on a virtually even keel with the most recent American Music Awards (16.0/24), though the Grammys did have the distinction of topping the ABC show for only the second time in the last 10 years.

The show was no doubt hurt in part by the much-publicized “lesbian kiss” episode of “Roseanne” (21.0/30), which achieved its fifth-best rating of the season and easily surpassed its season-to-date average even facing stiff competition. Despite its “parental advisory” label, the show also attracted a time-period winning 33 share among children.

“NYPD Blue” (16.1/26) also earned its second-best rating to date, while NBC’s two-hour “Ancient Prophecies” (13.8/20) provided aclever bit of counter-programming, scoring the web’s best rating in that block this season.

The Big Three networks, in fact, combined for an impressive 70 share points on the night — exceeded previously on only one Tuesday this season, Feb. 15, the first week of Olympic coverage.

With a day remaining to be tallied in the Nielsen sweeps, CBS is averaging a 22.3/34, up 47% in rating compared to last February and, more significantly, 34% over 1992, when the web last broadcast the Winter Olympics.

ABC, which didn’t figure to help itself with the final installment of the miniseries “Heaven & Hell,” is at an 11.4/17 through 27 days (down 12%), while NBC (10.5/16) and Fox Broadcasting Co. (7.5/11) are down 9% each in households versus February ’93.

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