Awards show posts lowest ratings to date

Although it helped deliver a convincing primetime ratings victory for CBS on Sunday, the 50th annual Grammy Awards posted some of the kudocast’s lowest scores to date.

Opposite a combination of original and repeat programming on the other broadcast nets, the Grammys averaged a preliminary 6.6 rating/16 share in adults 18-49 and 17.5 million viewers overall from 8 to 11:30 p.m., according to Nielsen, peaking with 20.1 million viewers in the 9 o’clock half-hour.

In the past 30 years, the Grammys have drawn a smaller overall audience only in 1995 (17.3 million) and 2006 (17 million). Last year’s show averaged a solid 20.1 million viewers.

News was even gloomier among adults 18-49, where this year’s Grammys came in 20% lower than last year (8.3/20) for what’s thought to be the weakest delivery in at least 30 years for music’s biggest night.

Show, which saw Amy Winehouse come away with Grammys for new artist, top song and record, may have been hurt by a lack of circulation on the broadcast nets during the writers strike. CBS, in particular, hasn’t been nearly as strong among young adults in 2008 as it was in the fourth quarter of 2007.

In general, ratings for all the major awards shows have drifted downward over the years. And these days, discerning auds seem to need a compelling reason (i.e., an especially popular movie or performance) to sit through a three-hour-plus awards show — and even the hubbub surrounding the 50th anniversary of the Grammys didn’t seem to do the trick.

The kudocast did, though, give the Eye net its strongest Sunday delivery since last year’s Grammys and should contribute to the net’s strongest week in about a month.

Elsewhere Sunday, ABC was a solid No. 2 as “America’s Funniest Home Videos” (prelim 3.0/8 in 18-49, 9.6 million viewers overall) was above average at 7 p.m. and a two-hour “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” also was on the high end (prelim 5.5/13 in 18-49, 15.8 million), drawing its second-best demo score and its largest overall audience in a year.

“Home” caught or surpassed the Grammys in various categories in its final half-hour from 9:30 to 10.

At 10, though, “Brothers & Sisters” fell to third place (a prelim 3.1/8 in 18-49, 8.6 million viewers overall) with its lowest scores to date for an original episode.

Fox got decent numbers from 7 to 8 p.m. for an overrun of the National Football League’s Pro Bowl all-star game (prelim 3.2/9 in 18-49, 8.9 million viewers). The net went with mostly repeats the rest of the way; the top score came from a special “Family Guy” at 9:30 (prelim 3.5/8, 7.2 million).

NBC started slowly with repeats of “American Gladiators,” which averaged a prelim 1.4/4 in 18-49 and 3.6 million viewers, but the net picked up a bit from 9 to 11 for the special “100 Most Outrageous Moments” (prelim 2.8/6 in 18-49, 8.2 million).

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