Special Report

Most Watched Grammy Ceremonies of the Past 40 Years

The 65th Grammy Awards will be held on Feb. 5 at the Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles. They will be televised on CBS Television and stream live and on-demand on Paramount+ starting at 8 p.m. EST. The awards are the most prestigious in the music industry and recognize the accomplishments of performers, songwriters and composers, production personnel, and others in the recorded music field. (These are the women who have won the most Grammys of all time.)

The question is will anyone be watching? The ratings for the Grammys have plunged in recent years.

To determine the most watched Grammys of the last 40 years, 24/7 Tempo reviewed historical data on audience viewership from Nielsen. Grammy ceremonies from 1983 to 2022 were ranked based on Nielsen live-plus-same-day data on total television audience. Data on Album of the Year Award, Record of the Year Award, and Best New Artist Award winners is from The Recording Academy.

Like the CMA Awards, the Golden Globes, or the Academy Awards, the Grammy Awards have seen steep viewing declines in recent decades. Last year’s show had 8.9 million viewers, a slight uptick from the Grammys’ all-time low the year before when the awards were virtual because of the pandemic. Both previous years’ ratings represented a drop of about 50% in total viewers from 2020.

Click here to see the most watched Grammy ceremonies of the last 40 years

Television big shots might be yearning for the 1980s, when the Grammys were boffo for ratings. Four of the five highest-rated shows aired in the 1980s. The top-rated program by far was in 1984, when Michael Jackson dominated the awards. The 2012 Grammys were the only program not from the 1980s that cracked the top five, when English singer Adele was the big  winner. (These are the 100 best-selling pop albums of all time.)

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