NEW YORK (AP) — After a very strong five-year run as a winter music attraction, viewership for the Grammy Awards dipped to 24.8 million this year on British soul singer Sam Smith's big night.
It was the smallest Grammy audience since 2009, according to the Nielsen company. The audience was above 28 million in both of the last two years, soaring to 39.9 million in 2012, when it aired shortly after the death of Whitney Houston.
Smith won three top Grammys — for best song and record, as well as best new artist.
The three-and-a-half hour show was stuffed with performances from the likes of AC/DC, Madonna, Beyonce and Hozier.
The Grammys were undoubtedly hurt by the return of "The Walking Dead," television's most popular drama for young people, which started a new season Sunday with 15.6 million viewers. The debut of AMC's "Better Call Saul," the "Breaking Bad" prequel, had 6.9 million viewers Sunday.
Between the Grammys and high ratings for its regular programming, CBS easily won the week in prime time with an average of 12 million viewers. ABC had 6 million, NBC had 5.1 million, Fox had 4.5 million, Univision had 2.9 million, the CW had 1.8 million, Telemundo had 1.2 million and ION Television had 1.1 million.
AMC was the week's most popular cable network, averaging 2.01 million viewers in prime time. USA averaged 1.97 million, TBS had 1.92 million, Fox News Channel had 1.86 million and the Disney Channel had 1.72 million.
Despite its anchor, Brian Williams, being under fire for a story misrepresenting his Iraq War reporting, NBC's "Nightly News" did very well with an average of 10.2 million viewers. ABC's "World News Tonight" had 9.5 million and the "CBS Evening News" had 7.9 million. Interest in bad wintertime weather early last week spiked the news viewership.
Meanwhile, the "World News Tonight" lead over NBC last Friday — two days after Williams' apology for his reporting — shrunk to 200,000 with more complete nationwide data. Nielsen had reported Monday that ABC's lead on Friday had been twice that.
For the week of Feb. 2-8, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: "Grammy Awards," CBS, 24.82 million; "NCIS," CBS, 18.64 million; "The Big Bang Theory," CBS, 17.09 million; "NCIS: New Orleans," CBS, 16.52 million; "The Walking Dead," AMC, 15.64 million; "Mom," CBS, 11.65 million; "Empire," Fox, 11.47 million; "Blue Bloods," CBS, 11.32 million; "American Idol" (Wednesday), Fox, 11.21 million; "Criminal Minds," CBS, 10.48 million.
ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Co. CBS is owned by CBS Corp. CW is a joint venture of Warner Bros. Entertainment and CBS Corp. Fox is owned by 21st Century Fox. NBC and Telemundo are owned by Comcast Corp. ION Television is owned by ION Media Networks.