Grammys TV ratings close to all-time low

Host Trevor Noah speaks at the 64th Annual Grammy Awards on Sunday, April 3, 2022, in Las Vegas ...

TV viewing for the CBS telecast of the 64th Grammy Awards ceremony will only be slightly above last year’s all-time low.

Early Nielsen data showed the CBS telecast averaged 8.93 million viewers, a notch above the comparable figure of 8.8 million in 2021. The final figure last year was 9.2 million viewers.

CBS estimates that this year’s telecast will end up with 9.6 million viewers when out-of-home viewing data is added, a 4% gain over last year. The figure includes people who livestreamed the event on Paramount+ and other platforms.

Such an increase will be a small fraction of the 60% lift ABC saw for its March 27 telecast of the Oscars, which averaged 16.6 million viewers.

The cratering of awards show ratings in 2021 were tied to COVID-19 health protocols requiring participants to wear masks or accept their honors from remote locations.

But the erosion of live TV viewing due to consumers migrating to streaming video platforms means the massive audiences awards shows once attracted may no longer be attainable.

The Grammy Awards scored 26 million viewers as recently as 2017, and 18.7 million viewers in 2020. Before last year, the previous low for the event was 17 million viewers in 2006.

CBS pays the Recording Academy around $57 million a year for the broadcast rights to the Grammy Awards.

Unlike the Oscars, this year’s Grammy Awards, hosted by Comedy Central star Trevor Noah at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, did not have a seismic news-making incident.

The Oscars created a global scandal when Will Smith walked onstage during the ceremony and slapped presenter Chris Rock, who had joked about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, and her close-cropped hair. Later Smith won the Academy Award for lead actor and received a standing ovation, capping off the most bizarre night in Oscar history.

The incident added viewers to the back end of the Oscar telecast, when viewing typically falls off, but the program was already on track to show an improvement over last year.

The massive national discussion about Smith’s slap reminded viewers about the unpredictability of live television events, which could have added interest to the Grammy Awards.

But the Recording Academy likely eliminated the best chance of a viral moment when it pulled Kanye West as a performer due to what it described as “concerning online behavior.”

The Grammy Awards ceremony was glitch-free, giving viewers a fast-paced, performance-driven telecast. Big winners of the night included Silk Sonic, the retro soul act featuring Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak. Their hit “Leave the Door Open” was honored as song and record of the year.

Breakout star Olivia Rodrigo earned Grammys for best new artist, pop vocal album and pop solo performance. Jon Batiste, the bandleader for “Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” earned album of the year for “We Are.”

The night also featured an address from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, which preceded performances by artists from his country.