/// CBS Scores Second-Biggest Grammy Audience of All Time
Whitney Houston may have cast a long shadow over the 54th Grammy Awards, but the music community’s response to the singer’s death helped generate huge ratings for CBS. According to preliminary Nielsen data, Sunday night’s program delivered a whopping 39 million viewers and a 14.1 rating in the 18-49 demo, making it the second most-watched Grammys in history. Only the 1984 installment put up bigger numbers, drawing 51.7 million viewers. The 26th Grammy Awards came on the heels of Michael Jackson’s monster release Thriller , which spawned seven hit singles and remains the top-selling record of all time. Jackson won a record eight Grammys that year. Viewership peaked last night in the 9:30 p.m. time slot, as CBS averaged 43.1 million total viewers and a 15.1 in the demo. While the Nielsen numbers will be adjusted somewhat before the end of the day—a final reckoning should be available at around 4 p.m. EST—the Grammys have a good shot at out-delivering ABC’s coverage of the 84th Academy Awards on Feb. 26. Last night’s broadcast was marked by a number of tributes to Houston; the most heartfelt was delivered by Jennifer Hudson. The singer gave a subdued and elegant reading of Houston’s 1992 hit, “I Will Always Love You.” Houston died Sunday afternoon in her suite in the Beverly Hills Hilton. Even before the news broke about Houston’s death, CBS was confident it would scare up a big crowd on Sunday night. Last year's broadcast reached an 11-year high of 26.7 million viewers, an improvement of 3 percent versus the previous year. The difference between the 52nd and 51st Grammy turnout was even more pronounced, as the 2010 broadcast delivered 25.9 million viewers, up 36 percent from the year-ago 19 million. Sources said that CBS had elevated its unit cost for this year’s program to about $800,000 a pop, marking an all-time high for the Grammys. Just two years ago, CBS commanded a mere $425,000 for a 30-second spot in the broadcast.
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CBS Scores Second-Biggest Grammy Audience of All Time