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Viewership at a record low, Grammys still rank No. 2 among prime-time shows

 Beyoncé accepts a Grammy.
Beyoncé and the Grammys helped boost CBS to the top of the network ratings.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Viewership for Sunday’s 63rd Grammy Awards set a record low, continuing a trend among awards shows, but it was still the week’s second-most-watched prime-time program.

The three-hour, 16-minute ceremony averaged 9.227 million viewers, according to live-plus-same-day figures released Tuesday by Nielsen. The show aired on CBS and was based at Staples Center, although much of it was virtual.

Viewership dropped 50.6% from last year’s 18.69 million average, the lowest for the Grammys since 2008.

The previous low was 17.01 million viewers in 2006, when the ceremony was broadcast on a Wednesday opposite an episode of “American Idol” for its opening hour. The Grammys returned to Sunday the following year.

Since February 2020, the Oscars, Emmys and Golden Globe Awards also have set record lows. Viewership for most forms of programming has decreased in recent years, in part because of competition from streaming programs, including streams of the same programs that are shown on traditional television.

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The Grammys averaged a record 51.67 million viewers in 1984 when Michael Jackson, at the height of his popularity, won a record eight Grammys. Figures are available dating back to 1977.

CBS had each of the four highest-ranked prime-time programs between March 8 and Sunday, topped by “NCIS,” which averaged 9.779 million viewers, its third first-place finish in seven weeks. A broadcast of “60 Minutes” with all repeat segments was the only other program to average more than 8 million viewers, averaging 8.139 million to finish third for the week.

“FBI,” which followed “NCIS,” was fourth, averaging 7.663 million viewers.

CBS also had the highest-rated comedy — “Young Sheldon,” ninth for the week, averaging 6.492 million viewers — and the most-watched program beginning at 10 p.m. — “FBI: Most Wanted,” 12th for the week, averaging 6.146 million viewers for its second-largest audience of the season.

After CBS, NBC programs had the four biggest audiences, topped by “Chicago Fire,” seventh for the week, averaging 7.041 million viewers.

CBS finished first in the network race for the eighth consecutive week and 10th time in the 25-week-old 2020-21 television season, averaging 4.87 million viewers.

NBC averaged 3.96 million viewers to finish second, its highest finish since the week of Jan. 11-18, when it was also second.

ABC averaged 3.43 million viewers to finish third after seven consecutive second-place finishes. Fox was fourth for the seventh consecutive week, averaging 2.62 million viewers for its 15 hours, 36 minutes of programming. The CW again was fifth among the five major English-language broadcast networks, averaging 730,000 viewers for its 12 hours.

CBS, NBC and ABC each aired 22 hours of prime-time programming for the week.

The procedural drama “9-1-1” drew Fox’s largest audience for the eighth consecutive week, averaging 6.281 million viewers, 11th for the week.

ABC’s biggest draw for an entertainment program was “American Idol,” 17th for the week, averaging 5.502 million viewers. Its most-watched program was President Biden’s address to the nation Thursday on the first anniversary of the declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Biden program was 10th for the week, averaging 6.343 million viewers.

The CW’s ratings leader was the crime drama “Walker,” which averaged 1.334 million viewers, 102nd among broadcast programs. Its overall rank was not available.

The only premiere on the five major broadcast networks, the Fox game show “Game of Talents,” was fourth in its Wednesday 9-10 p.m. time slot and 46th overall, averaging 3.097 million viewers, 54.7% of the 5.661 million average for the spring season premiere of “The Masked Singer” that preceded it.

The top-rated prime-time cable program was the Thursday edition of “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” which included President Biden’s nearly half-hour speech and averaged 4.246 million viewers, 27th for the week.

Fox News Channel won the prime-time-cable race for the seventh consecutive week, averaging 2.445 million viewers. MSNBC was second for the seventh consecutive week, averaging 1.843 million.

CNN was third for the sixth time in seven weeks, averaging 1.287 million viewers.

“Firefly Lane” edged the Netflix documentary series “Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel” to be the top streamed program for the second consecutive week.

In “Firefly Lane’s” first full week of release, Feb. 8-14, viewers watched 1.288 billion minutes of the 10-part Netflix drama about two inseparable best friends (Katherine Heigl and Sarah Chalke) and their enduring, complicated bond spanning four decades. Viewership was down 1.2% from the 1.308 billion minutes for the first five days it was available.

Viewers watched 1.286 billion minutes of the four episodes of “Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel”in the first five days of release of the documentary, which chronicles the 2013 disappearance of college student Elisa Lam from the downtown Los Angeles hotel.

“Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel” was among five programs in the top 10 that were not in the previous week’s top 10.

The 24-episode 2017-20 USA Network anthology crime drama “The Sinner” was third, with 1.229 billion minutes watched. The 2007-12 Nickelodeon children’s comedy “iCarly” was fifth, with 883 million minutes watched of 60 episodes.

The Canadian family drama “Heartland” was seventh with 637 million minutes watched of 156 episodes. The Starz historical drama “Outlander” returned to the top 10 after a one-week absence, placing ninth with 611 million minutes watched of 55 episodes.

Dropping out of the top 10 were “CoComelon,” Netflix’s 3D-animated series of videos of traditional nursery rhymes and original children’s songs; “Mariposa de Barrio,” the Telemundo telenovela based on the autobiography of the late singer Jenni Rivera; Netflix’s steamy eight-episode alternate-history period drama “Bridgerton”; the 2014-20 Nickelodeon superhero comedy “Henry Danger”; and the long-running CBS action drama “NCIS.”

For the second consecutive week, “WandaVision” was the lone non-Netflix program in the top 10, finishing 10th with 596 million minutes watched of its six episodes. The sixth episode of the Disney+ blend of classic television and the Marvel Cinematic Universe debuted Feb. 12.

Nielsen also releases viewership figures for programming streamed on Hulu and Amazon Prime Video.

The top 10 consisted of seven programs that originally aired on U.S. or Canadian broadcast or cable channels and three original streaming programs.


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