Thanks to some must-see moments, the ratings for the Grammy Awards bounced back Sunday after two straight years of declines.
CBS' Sunday telecast of the 59th Grammy Awards averaged 26.05 million viewers, the event's largest audience since 2014. The audience was 4% larger than last year's according to data from Nielsen.
The annual show honoring the music industry likely got a boost from having two of its most popular divas — Adele and Beyoncé — performing and competing for major awards. CBS also heavily promoted the tributes to George Michael and Prince, who both died in the last year.
Adele won Record of the Year and Song of the Year for "Hello." Her "25" was the surprise winner for Album of the Year over Beyoncé's heralded "Lemonade."
CBS had to be relieved over the ratings rebound. In June, it signed a deal with the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences to carry the Grammy Awards through 2026.
The ceremony is perennially the second most watched TV awards show, behind the Oscars. Award shows and sports are the last surefire events on TV that can still draw massive audiences that will watch live instead of on a delayed basis through a DVR or online streaming.
Last year, however, the Grammy telecast had dropped to 24.95 million viewers — down 1.5% from the previous year. It was the second straight year the program had declined. There was also a 9% drop last year among viewers aged 18 to 49, the demographic coveted by advertisers. This year, the telecast was up 1% in the demographic.
CBS also provides streaming video of the telecast on its CBS All Access service. While the service requires a subscription, new users can sign up for a free trial.
There was some discussion within CBS last year about whether streaming of the Grammy Awards was cutting into the traditional TV audience. But having a telecast with a strong lineup of big-name talent can counteract that trend.
CBS does not release data on the streaming audience. The company did say total time spent on All Access was up 94% from last year's Grammy telecast. It also set a new record for signups to the service, which was also set during the 2016 Grammy Awards.
New York was the top-rated market for the Grammy Awards, averaging a 23.0 rating. In Los Angeles, the telecast averaged a 17.0 rating. A rating point represents a percentage of TV homes in the market that are tuned in.
12:20 p.m.: This article was updated throughout with data from Nielsen.