CBS crushes competition; ABC's 'Housewives' plummets

Performances by hot artists Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga and Katy Perry along with rare perfs by vets Mick Jagger and Barbra Streisand helped Sunday’s CBS telecast of the Grammys edge up to a seven-year-high in key demos while drawing the event’s largest overall audience — 26.6 million — in 11 years.

It’s an impressive showing since last year’s kudocast was boosted by tributes to Michael Jackson and came one week after CBS aired the Super Bowl (the net usually sees an uptick in Grammy viewership in the years it airs TV’s biggest event).

Social media also is likely benefiting annual specials like the Grammys — the most performance-driven of the major kudocasts — as it and others like the Super Bowl and Academy Awards have seen improved ratings in the last few years. The viral nature of Facebook, Twitter and the like means that as more and more people buzz about major live events, those events truly become “must see TV.”

Looking at the Nielsens, on a night when country trio Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now” picked up the prize for song and record of the year, the 53rd annual Grammy Awards averaged a boffo 10.0 rating/26 share in adults 18-49 from 8 to 11:30 p.m. — up 1% from last year, when the show had achieved a six-year high. It also pulled a 10.8/26 in adults 25-54 (up 2%) and a 9.5/28 in adults 18-34 (up 4%), also the best since 2004.

And thanks to Bieber Nation, the show saw its biggest year-to-year growth in teens 12-17, with this year’s prelim 8.1 rating repping a 13% jump over last year’s 7.2.

The strong showing cements the Grammys as TV’s No. 2 awards show behind only the Academy Awards, which last year drew a 13.3 rating in adults 18-49 and more than 41 million viewers overall — its best showing in four or five years in various categories.

Last month’s Golden Globes telecast on NBC, by comparison, drew a 5.2 demo rating and 17 million viewers overall, and the Primetime Emmy Awards last August on NBC did a 4.1 rating in adults 18-49 and 13.5 million viewers overall.

Among music kudocasts, the Grammys on Sunday commanded nearly as big an 18-49 rating (10.0) as the combined delivery for the most recent editions of the next two highest-rated shows: a 5.6 for the Video Music Awards on MTV (which hit an eight-year high last September) and a 4.7 for the Country Music Assn. Awards for ABC in November.

The Grammys are now bigger than most nights of “American Idol,” primetime’s dominant entertainment series. No episodes of the talent show have topped a 10 same-night rating in adults 18-49 this season, and only four did so the previous season.

There wasn’t much else happening on competing networks Sunday, according to Nielsen prelims, with ABC’s “Desperate Housewives” tumbling to a firstrun series low (2.6/6 in 18-49, 9.1 million viewers overall). Also for the Alphabet, “America’s Funniest Home Videos” did OK opening the night (1.8/6 in 18-49, 7.8 million), but “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” (1.6/4, 6.4 million) at 8 and “Brothers and Sisters” at 10 (1.8/5, 6.4 million) both joined their “Housewives” skedmate in limping to lows.

Fox’s animated block fared a bit better relative to its season averages, with original episodes of “American Dad” (1.9/6, 3.9 million), “The Simpsons” (2.7/7, 5.6 million), “Bob’s Burgers” (2.1/5, 4.2 million), “Family Guy” (3.2/8, 6.0 million) and “The Cleveland Show” (2.4/6, 4.8 million).

NBC served up a two-hour “Dateline” (1.1/3, 5.2 million) and special off-night repeats of “Harry’s Law” at 9 (0.8/2, 4.6 million) and 10 (0.6/2, 3.9 million).

In addition to the Grammys, CBS led the night’s opening hour with “60 Minutes” (2.1/7, 12.2 million), which featured a piece on Lady Gaga.

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