Grammys drop in TV ratings; West Coast Twitter users gripe about delay

Britsh singer Sam Smith accepts his Grammy for best new artist onstage Sunday during the 57th Grammy Awards at Staples Center.
Britsh singer Sam Smith accepts his Grammy for best new artist onstage Sunday during the 57th Grammy Awards at Staples Center.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times / Pool)

Even with big performances and a Kanye West almost-gaffe, the 57th Grammy Awards hit a six-year low in ratings.

The roughly three-and-a-half hour show, broadcast on CBS, averaged 25.3 million viewers, according to Nielsen ratings. It was the show’s lowest turnout since the 2009 telecast, which drew just 19 million viewers.

Viewership was down about 11% from the 28.5 million people who tuned in to last year’s show. In the key 18-to-49-year-old demographic, this year’s show dropped about 14% from last year to a rating of 8.5.


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Unlike the Emmy Awards, the Golden Globes and Academy Awards, the Grammys are not broadcast live across the country.

CBS has historically chosen to air the music show on a tape delay on the West Coast with the idea that more viewers can watch the show between 8 p.m. and 11 p.m.

But social media backlash from West Coast Twitter users suggests some are still unhappy about the time delay.

“The #GRAMMYs decision to not broadcast live continues a proud music industry tradition of pretending the Internet doesn’t exist,” wrote one user.

“I petition that next year, @CBS plays @TheGRAMMY live on the west coast...trying to not find out the winners for so long is hard! #GRAMMYs,” said another user.

But CBS is unlikely to modify the timing of its Grammy broadcast. Despite the decline in ratings this year, the awards show still draws a very big audience.

“It’s something we talk about every year, and we will continue to do so, but the simple answer is that it’s been working,” said Chris Ender, CBS’ executive vice president of communications, in an email . “Even in a digital age, the network and producers believe a performance-driven event such as the Grammys benefits from the social chatter and word of mouth that moves East to West.”

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The most-watched Grammy telecasts to date were in 2012, when roughly 40 million people watched the show that aired after Whitney Houston’s death, and in 1984, when 43.8 million tuned in.

This Sunday’s Grammys drew record online traffic for CBS, which saw a 133% year-over-year growth in unique users. Live-streaming of “Grammy Live,” and’s multiplatform coverage leading up to and throughout the telecast was up more than 40% from last year, with roughly 7.5 million streams.

“The Grammys have been on an incredible ratings run since 2010,” said Ender. “It’s a pretty high-class problem to dip to 25.3 million viewers and have the season’s No. 1 entertainment broadcast in demos.”

This year, there were 13.4 million Grammy-related comments on Twitter, according to Nielsen, making it the biggest social entertainment program of the TV season to date.

Mashwork, a New York-based social media insights firm, created a platform called Canvs to parse through all tweets about TV shows. The company uses relevant tweets from three hours before, during and three hours after an initial broadcast, local time, to gauge what emotions, or “reactions,” people have about TV.

The firm found that of the Grammy-related tweets, roughly 14% contained “reactions” of hate.

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