Awards show captures all key demos

Wednesday’s telecast of the Grammys on CBS has managed to do Carlos Santana one better, sweeping the night’s half-hours in all key ratings categories with the kudocast’s best Nielsens since 1993.

Music’s biggest night, which saw the veteran Santana walk away with eight of a possible nine Grammy statuettes, drew a smooth 27.78 million viewers and a supernatural adults 18-49 rating of 12.6/31, despite increased competition this year from the likes of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” and “NYPD Blue.”

CBS estimates that nearly 60 million viewers watched at least part of the three-hour broadcast.

Music rules

The show’s broad audience topped the night among all key demos, with its best scores coming from adults 18-34 (12.5/34), adults 25-54 (12.5/28), women 18-49 (15.5/36), women 25-54 (15.7/34) and teens (13.4/39). In each category it was the best Nielsen results since 1993, when another music vet, Eric Clapton, ruled the night with his album “Unplugged” and the track “Tears in Heaven.”

Compared with last year’s broadcast, the Grammys increased by 4% in households (17.3/27 vs. 16.6/26), by 12% in total viewers, 10% in adults 18-49, 3% in adults 18-34, 7% in adults 25-54 and 25% in teens.

Ironically, the show took a bit of a dip in its final half-hour, losing share points while the night’s big winner — Santana — was performing the award-winning “Smooth” with Matchbox 20’s Rob Thomas.

The Grammys, which has re-established itself as a ratings dynamo in recent years, now consistently ranks as the No. 2 awards show for the year, trailing only the Oscars.

‘Millionaire’s’ match

For one night anyway, ABC’s “Millionaire” (23.90 million, 7.7/20 in adults 18-49) met its match, as a special Wednesday edition of the gameshow phenomenon lost its hour in households and total viewers for the first time this season. It also marked the first time since the season premiere of “The X-Files” last November that “Millionaire” failed to win at least one of its two half-hours in adults 18-49.

Still, “Millionaire” hung tough, trailing the Grammys by only 2 million viewers from 8-9 p.m. and providing ABC with its largest audience and best adults 18-49 rating opposite the Grammys since 1992 (“Full House” and “Home Improvement”). The Grammys, though, did win its hour by a convincing 9 shares in adults 18-49.

“Millionaire” combined with a special “NYPD Blue” (12.40 million, 5.1/13 in adults 18-49) to lift ABC to a second-place finish on the night, 15 shares behind CBS in adults 18-49 and 14 shares back in homes. NBC’s “Law & Order” did top “Blue,” though, in both categories at 10 p.m.

Opposite “Millionaire” and the Grammys, NBC gamer “Twenty One” (6.42 million, 1.7/5 in adults 18-49) went bust, and the Peacock settled for third place on the night.

Including Wednesday’s results, the February sweeps standings in adults 18-49 with one week remaining are: ABC, 5.9/16 (up 13% vs. a year ago); NBC, 5.7/15 (down 8%); Fox, 4.8/13 (down 9%); CBS, 4.1/11 (down 2%).

In households, it’s: ABC, 10.1/16 (up 19%); NBC, 9.3/15 (down 5%) tied with CBS; 9.3/15 (down 6%); Fox 6.6/11 (down 6%).

The big night for CBS extended into latenight, as well, as an appearance by Julia Roberts helped “The Late Show” (6.2/19 in fast national results) to a convincing victory over NBC’s “The Tonight Show” (4.0/12).

Letterman had returned from his medical-related absence on Monday with an 8.6/24 fast-national rating, his best marks since February 1994, when CBS aired the Winter Olympics. He will host Friday’s show as well and return next week with the same Monday-Wednesday-Friday schedule.

After “Late Show,” CBS’ “The Late Late Show With Craig Kilborn” delivered an all-time high of 2.7/11 in the 47 metered markets, edging NBC’s “Late Night With Conan O’Brien” (2.6/11).

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