Awards show audience grows to 19 million

Music’s biggest night struck a chord with young auds, as the Grammy Awards rallied in the ratings one year after hitting a record low.

Boosted by acts with appeal to the under-35 crowd, the “51st Annual Grammy Awards” dominated the night and will finish as the season’s No. 2 kudocast, behind only the Oscars.

According to preliminary national estimates from Nielsen, the Grammys averaged a 7.4 rating/18 share in adults 18-49 and 19.1 million viewers overall. It rose 14% in the demo and gained nearly 2 million viewers from last year’s low-water marks, which occurred during a time of depressed viewing levels for the broadcast networks thanks to the writers strike.

Best news for CBS and the Recording Academy had to be the influx of younger viewers. Ratings among the 12-34 crowd had dropped off precipitously in recent years, but auds responded this time around to performers including Jennifer Hudson, the Jonas Brothers, Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus.

Among adults 18-34, this year’s prelim 6.9 rating/19 share was up 23% from 2008 (5.6/15) for the show’s second best score in four years. And in teens 12-17, Sunday’s Grammys reached a projected 5.1/17, up more than 30% from last year and the strongest delivery among the Clearasil crowd in four years.

CBS credited an aggressive cross-platform marketing campaign — between the network, the Recording Academy and CBS Interactive — in boosting the ratings.

“It was a broadcast with something for every generation and, importantly, it was supported by a marketing campaign for every platform,” said Jack Sussman, CBS Entertainment’s executive vice president of specials, music and live events. “There wasn’t a place on air or online on CBS that wasn’t speaking about the Grammys in some form.”

CBS crushed the competish on the night, beating runner-up ABC by 7 shares in 18-49. “60 Minutes” contributed nicely (prelim 3.1/9 in 18-49, 16.8 million), winning its hour in 25-54 (4.4/11). The installment included Katie Couric’s interview with Capt. Chesley Sullenberger and the crew of US Airways Flight 1549.

The Alphabet was the only other net to show up Sunday, kicking things off with the best scores in a year for “America’s Funniest Home Videos” (prelim 2.8/8 in 18-49, 9.3 million).

And although “Desperate Housewives” (prelim 4.9/11 in 18-49, 13.7 million) and “Brothers and Sisters” (prelim 3.1/8, 9.3 million) were a bit below average, they improved upon their most recent perf, Jan. 18 opposite football’s AFC Championship game.

Fox served up repeats of its animated comedies, while NBC struck out with the first night of its two-part original movie “XIII” (prelim 1.3/3 in 18-49, 6.2 million).

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