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Ratings: 2021 Grammys Ceremony Endures Massive Decline, Posts Lowest Viewership Total On Record (Update)

The 2021 Grammys ceremony had a rough night in the ratings.

Trevor Noah presents Best Melodic Rap Performance Award at THE 63rd ANNUAL GRAMMY¨ AWARDS, broadcast live from the STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, Sunday, March 14, 2021 (8:00-11:30 PM, live ET/5:00-8:30 PM, live PT) on the CBS Television Network and Paramount+. Photo: Cliff Lipson/CBS ©2021 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Update: The final ratings for the 2021 Grammy Awards ceremony came in higher than the preliminary numbers in CBS’ Monday afternoon press release.

According to Showbuzz, the TV broadcast drew a 2.3 adults 18-49 rating and averaged 9.2 million overall live+same-day viewers. The CBS press release reported that 8.8 million watched the show on TV and official streaming platforms.

Showbuzz’s number, which is already higher than the total CBS reported, does not even include the streaming component.

Despite the upward revision, this year’s ceremony still ranks as the least-watched Grammys ceremony on record. It is also down sharply from last year’s show, which averaged 18.7 million viewers on TV.
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Yes, it was the #1 show on television Sunday night. Yes, it was the highest-rated awards show since the 2020 Oscars.

Unfortunately, those positive stats do not erase another reality: Sunday’s 2021 Grammy Awards broadcast reached the ceremony’s smallest linear audience on record.

According to CBS, the show drew a 2.1 adults 18-49 rating and averaged 8.8 million overall viewers. Those numbers, it should be noted, account for Paramount+ and CBS app streaming in addition to traditional TV viewership.

The numbers sharply trail the 5.4 demo rating and 18.7 million viewer mark posted by last year’s ceremony, which was considered a comparably weak ratings performer in its own right.

Both numbers, moreover, represent franchise lows by a considerable margin. Prior to this year’s show, the smallest recorded demo rating was last year’s 5.4. The smallest audience on record was 17.00 million for the 2006 ceremony.

CBS notes that this year’s ceremony was the most-live streamed Grammys on record. Although that statistic is positive in a vacuum, it also paints an even more negative portrait of the show’s traditional TV numbers (historical ratings numbers would not account for streaming, which only became a major factor in recent years anyway).

It is, of course, worth noting that just about all awards shows have been suffering ratings declines over the past decades. The COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the show vibe has accelerated that decline.

On the other hand, the Grammys should theoretically be best positioned to combat waning interest in awards shows. Even if the awards themselves lose impact, the ceremony has the ability to attract audiences with its stacked lineup of performers. Shows like the Emmys, Golden Globes, and Oscars, which rely far more on the awards themselves, do not have as much leeway in that regard.

Written by Brian Cantor

Brian Cantor is the editor-in-chief for Headline Planet. He has been a leading reporter in the music, movie, television and sporting spaces since 2002.

Brian's reporting has been cited by major websites like BuzzFeed, Billboard, the New Yorker and The Fader -- and shared by celebrities like Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber and Nicki Minaj.

Contact Brian at brian.cantor[at]headlineplanet.com.

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