The 2018 Grammys Saw a Double-Digit Ratings Decline

Viewership plummeted a whopping 24% from last year

According to Nielsen Media Research, the James Corden-hosted and Bruno Mars-dominated live show delivered 19.81 million total viewers. Getty Images
Headshot of A.J. Katz

Apparently, viewers of the 60th annual Grammy Awards weren’t in a New York state of mind last night.

Originating from New York for the first time since 2003, a politically charged 2018 Grammys broadcast on CBS posted double-digit audience losses from the 2017 edition.

According to Nielsen Media Research, the James Corden-hosted and Bruno Mars-dominated live show delivered 19.81 million total viewers. That number’s not only down 24 percent from the 2017 Grammys telecast (which garnered 26.05 million total viewers)—it’s the show’s lowest total in nine years.

The three-and-a-half-hour program, which celebrates the best recordings, compositions and artists from the year in music, also pulled a 5.9 rating in the advertiser-preferred 18-49 demographic. That’s also down 24 percent from the 7.8 rating posted by the 2017 Grammys telecast among 18- to 49-year-olds.

One potential explanation for the audience drop-off is a significant date change from last year’s show. The Grammys traditionally take place in mid-February—last year’s show took place on Feb. 12, 2017—but the ceremony was moved up to the final Sunday in January this year due to NBC’s Winter Olympics coverage. This also happened in 2010 and 2014, and it’s possible audiences weren’t aware of the move.

The network also made the curious decision to stick with CBS Sports’ coverage of the Farmers Insurance Open golf tournament into the 7 p.m. hour. The network originally planned the tournament to end by 6:30 p.m. ET before its preplanned hourlong Grammys preshow, but the tournament ran long, making the Grammys preshow slightly under 30 minutes.

https://twitter.com/sammynickalls/status/957762790697111552

CBS and its clients will most certainly need to have a conversation regarding makegoods considering the number of advertisers that bought time during what was supposed to be an hour-long preshow did not see their spots air.

Despite the year-over-year ratings decline, the 2018 Grammys now ranks as the most-watched prime-time entertainment telecast since the 2017 Oscars, which aired last February. The Grammy Awards is traditionally one of the highest-rated and most-watched entertainment programs of the year, but this most certainly won’t be the case in 2018.

CBS predictably won the night, dominating the combined broadcast network competition in total viewers.


@ajkatztv aj.katz@adweek.com A.J. Katz is the senior editor of Adweek's TVNewser.
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