The 63rd Grammy Awards scored 8.8 million viewers Sunday on CBS, the smallest audience on record for the annual telecast, continuing the ratings tailspin for TV trophy shows.
While the figure from Nielsen is 53% below the 18.7 million viewers who watched a year ago, the telecast fared better than NBC’s telecast of the 78th Golden Globes, which drew a record low 6.9 million viewers for NBC on Feb. 28, a 63% decline from 2020.
The COVID-19 pandemic delayed the show from its usual date in late January or early February and safety protocols prevented the ceremony from being held in front of a large live audience. Such constraints have been a factor in the significant declines in audience television awards shows have seen over the last year, as both the Golden Globes and the Emmy Awards dropped to historic lows.
The previous low for a Grammy Awards telecast was 17 million viewers in 2006.
Producers of the Grammy telecast made the best of the situation with a presentation that was largely praised by critics and fans on social media.
The set inside the Staples Center resembled the long-running BBC 2 music show “Later…With Jools Holland,” where various acts appear on a single stage, creating a club-like atmosphere for the performers who played live.
Grammy nominated artists were assembled in a socially distanced banquet setting on a veranda outside the venue. “The Daily Show” host Trevor Noah served as emcee.
The program’s executive producer Ben Winston told the LA Times last week that he fully expected an audience decline of 30% to 60% from a year ago no matter many accolades the show received.
The night celebrating the past year in the music industry included honors for Beyonce, who won four awards, including for best R&B performance for “Black Parade.” With 28 career wins, Beyonce broke the record for most Grammys for a female recording artist.
Taylor Swift won album of the year for “Folklore,” while Billie Eilish earned song of the year for “Everything I Wanted.”
CBS offers the Grammy Awards to subscribers of its streaming service Paramount+. The network does not release the data, but said in a statement that streaming of the Grammy Awards was up 83% over last year.