Award shows are in their rebound era.
The Grammy Awards notched 16.9 million viewers on Sunday night, a 34 percent increase from last year’s ceremony, according to Nielsen and CBS, which aired the show. It was the most-watched Grammy Awards since the 2020 ceremony, shortly before the pandemic — and up significantly from 2021, when only 8.8 million people watched.
Sunday night’s telecast, hosted by Trevor Noah, had plenty of star power, with Taylor Swift, Jay-Z, Miley Cyrus, Billie Eilish and Beyoncé all making appearances. Tracy Chapman and Joni Mitchell dazzled critics with rare television performances.
The Grammys’ performance is part of a trend as viewers return to live award shows after several years of slumping ratings.
Last month, the scandal-plagued Golden Globes notched 9.4 million viewers, a 50 percent uptick from last year. The Oscars have had back-to-back increases, with last year’s ceremony drawing nearly 19 million viewers. Viewership for the 2023 Tony Awards also increased modestly. (The outlier is the Emmy Awards, which set a low in viewership in January after a four-month postponement.)
When award show ratings began to go into free fall a few years ago, many industry observers chalked up the decline to exhaustion among viewers — newly accustomed to on-demand entertainment — with three-and-a-half-hour ceremonies jammed with five-minute commercial breaks.
Industry executives also said viewers were losing patience with winners’ speeches that became decidedly more political during the Trump administration.
“What happened over the last four or five years, as award shows became platforms for people to put out their own views on topics, some of the Middle America audience that sort of clamored for that celebrity maybe got tired of the preachiness of it,” Mark Lazarus, the chairman of the NBCUniversal Media Group, said at an event in December.
Speeches dedicated to political issues were mostly absent from Sunday night’s Grammys telecast, even with former President Donald J. Trump galloping toward the Republican nomination in the coming presidential election and a pair of wars raging in the Middle East and Europe. Political speeches were also virtually nonexistent during the Globes and Emmys ceremonies last month.
The ceremony peaked around 9:45 p.m. Eastern time with more than 18 million viewers tuned into an extended in memoriam segment with performances by Stevie Wonder, Annie Lennox, Jon Batiste and Fantasia Barrino.