Strategy of airing show delayed on West Coast continues to pay dividends

CBS has no plans to air the Grammys live on the West Coast.

At a Television Critics Assn. panel Saturday, the Eye’s specials and music VP Jack Sussman said the current model of airing the show live at 5 p.m. on the East Coast and delayed at 8 p.m. on the West Coast is working perfectly.

“The ratings go up every year, so why mess with it?” he asked. “Why take a chance? What’s the upside?”

Last year’s Grammycast drew nearly 30 million viewers, an increase from the 27 million who watched in 2011 and a very healthy number in an age where so many shows are watched delayed on DVR. Ratings were likely spiked due to the sudden death of Whitney Houston the day before the show, as viewers wanted to see how the Grammys would pay tribute to the beloved singer.

By shifting its strategy and airing the show at 5 o’clock on the West Coast, CBS would not only be concerned the ratings would fall but that advertiser coin would be decreased. Last year the net received approximately $800,000 for a 30-second spot.

Sussman said the immediate Twitter and Facebook exchanges during the live show actually increases viewer anticipation for the West Coast audience. For example, if there’s a popular group or song that’s being talked up on social media, everyone will want to tune in.

Said Sussman: “We just really think that this is not just an awards show, it’s a performance-based entertainment show. The fact that people will know who wins album of the year — and I’m not denigrating the award, because it’s the most prestigious award on the Grammys — but the viewer doesn’t care. The viewer cares that Pink and Beyonce were doing ‘Purple Rain.'”

Although the discussions about a nationwide live show crop up every year, “It’s working for us this way and we’re not going to mess with it,” Sussman said.

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