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CBS extends its deal to air the Grammy Awards through 2026

CBS extends its deal to air the Grammy Awards through 2026
CBS Corp. Chairman Leslie Moonves, left, and Recording Academy President Neil Portnow have agreed to keep the Grammys at CBS through 2026. (CBS)

The Grammys will air on CBS through 2026, thanks to a new deal between the network and the Recording Academy.

The contract extension announced Wednesday replaces the 10-year pact signed in 2011. It improves the financial terms for the Recording Academy as well as securing a broadcast and streaming home for the Grammys for an additional five years.

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Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed, but Recording Academy President Neil Portnow acknowledged in an interview that the annual license fee is well above the $20-million figure reported for the last contract.

The willingness of CBS to make a long-term commitment to the Grammys demonstrates the heightened value of live event programming in an age when viewers spend more time watching scripted shows on a delayed basis through video-on-demand or online streaming.

Thirty-second commercials airing on the Grammys, the most watched music awards program of the year, have commanded high six-figure prices in recent years. The Feb. 15 telecast of the 58th Grammy Awards from Staples Center had an average audience of 25 million viewers.

CBS is also getting the online streaming rights to the televised ceremony, which it will continue to offer on its over-the-top subscription service, CBS All Access.

CBS has carried the Grammy Awards ceremony since 1973, when "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" by Roberta Flack was named record of the year. By the end of the new deal, the continuous 54-year run will be the longest any network will have with an awards show.

Portnow said he approached the network about extending its association with the Recording Academy even though they were only halfway through the deal signed in 2011.

"Our relationship with CBS couldn't be better and we like being on the network that continues to be the market leader," Portnow said.

Under CBS Corp. Chairman Leslie Moonves, the network has been open to locking up long-term deals for big TV events. The company recently agreed to a new, longer contract for the NCAA men's basketball tournament, which it will share with Turner Broadcasting, through 2032.

Along with the high ratings that attract advertising dollars, major live events also give leverage to CBS when it negotiates carriage fee deals with cable and satellite TV providers. Much of the growth at CBS is expected to come from the increases in such fees and compensation from affiliate TV stations that carry the network.

In addition to the annual awards show, the Recording Academy is providing additional music specials to the network. Grammy tributes to the Beatles, Frank Sinatra and Stevie Wonder have delivered respectable ratings in recent years.

The 59th Grammy Awards will be presented at Staples Center on Feb. 12.

Twitter: @SteveBattaglio

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