Grammy ratings off-key

Numbers are lowest for kudocast in five year span

HOLLYWOOD — The Grammy Awards were off-key in the ratings department Wednesday, still winning the night easily for CBS but down nearly 30% from last year’s strong showing.

According to national estimates from Nielsen, the 44th Grammy Awards, which ran until 11:30 p.m., averaged 18.96 million viewers and a 9.0 rating/23 share in adults 18-49. These are the softest scores in five years for music’s biggest night.

Compared with last year’s Grammys, Wednesday’s show was off by 29% in both the demo and overall audience. Sharpest dropoffs came among teens (down 49% to 6.8/24) and kids (down 40% to 3.5/15).

Numbers for the 2001 Grammys show were especially strong, boosted by the controversial musical pairing of Elton John and Eminem. Also, CBS, which aired mostly repeats opposite the Olympics on NBC, wasn’t nearly in as strong a promotional position as last year, when it was coming off the Super Bowl and the start of “Survivor: The Australian Outback.”

A generally weak year for the music biz and a lack of buzz surrounding this year’s performers may have contributed to the decline as well. Opening act U2, for example, had performed at the Super Bowl less than a month earlier.

The Grammys continue to perform at higher ratings levels than the “American Music Awards” on ABC, although this year’s gap was closer (“AMAs” averaged 16 million viewers and a 7.3/18 in A18-49 in January). And the Grammys outdrew last November’s “Country Music Assn. Awards,” (17.79m, 5.9/15), also on CBS, by about only 1 million viewers overall.

CBS still won every half-hour on Wednesday in adults 18-49 and 18-34, peaking at 9:30 with an 11.0/25 and 12.0/30, respectively. The Eye also took the night in total viewers, winning each half-hour until 10:30 when NBC’s “Law & Order” moved ahead.

In 18-49, CBS’ 9.4/23 in primetime easily topped second-place NBC (5.4/13).

The Peacock’s “Ed,” with guest star Kelly Ripa, edged out ABC’s comedies for second place in the 8 o’clock hour (4.1/11). NBC’s “The West Wing” (5.7/13) and “Law & Order” (6.5/17) were solid runners-up in the night’s final two hours — both up vs. Grammys night a year ago.

Fox, with theatrical repeat “Rush Hour,” was third in 18-49 (3.6/9), and ABC, with its regular lineup, was fourth (3.3/8).

Bright spot for the Alphabet was the comedy combo of “My Wife and Kids” and “According to Jim,” which boosted the net vs. last year (“Who Wants to Be a Millionaire”) by a whopping 46% in adults 18-34 (3.8/11 vs. 2.6/7).

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