Logo

It Took More Than Stars to Boost Grammys’ Viewership

Feb 15, 2009  •  Post A Comment

Performances by U2, Miley Cyrus and Lil Wayne may have helped boost tune-in for this year’s Grammy Awards, but the star-studded roster wasn’t the only factor behind the show’s ratings resurrection.
Long before Bono opened Sunday’s show, CBS and the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences had mounted an expansive campaign to build buzz and excitement for the Grammys, one that went well beyond the usual network marketing hype. From a first-ever primetime nominations special to a Katie Couric-hosted interview hour, the goal was to “create an event for television that you had to watch,” said Jack Sussman, CBS Entertainment’s executive VP of specials, music and live events.
U2
“We marshaled all our resources with the Academy and tried to get as many bullets out there as we could,” Mr. Sussman said. “We were on multiple platforms for multiple weeks creating whatever buzz we could to say, ‘This is a show that you should watch, because if you don’t, it’s going to be water-cooler television the next day and everyone will be talking about it.’”
It worked.
Ratings watchers were agape last week when the Nielsen numbers for the 51st annual Grammy Awards came in. Reversing years of declines for most major awards shows, the music industry’s top honors added 2 million viewers and gained 14% among adults 18 to 49. The news was even better in adults 18 to 34, where ratings were up 23%.
Mr. Sussman said the campaign to boost ratings began the moment nominations for this year’s awards were announced in December.
Rather than hold an early-morning press conference to reveal the contenders—as virtually all major kudos shows do— CBS and the Recording Academy opted to announce the nominees via a live, one-hour concert special broadcast by the network. Artists such as Mariah Carey and Christina Aguilera performed during the event, even though they weren’t expected to be in the hunt for major awards love.
While the special wasn’t a ratings smash, “It created network television-level buzz,” Mr. Sussman said. “It was a signal that the Grammy train was starting down the track.”
CBS Interactive was enlisted to help with a promotion in which potential Grammys viewers could submit their own YouTube-style videos to be used as video wallpaper during Katy Perry’s Grammy night performance.
“Once you get in that Internet world, it creates a self-sustaining buzz,” Mr. Sussman said.
That also was the idea behind CBS’ Grammy week Katie Couric special, which featured the “CBS Evening News” anchor interviewing several nominees.
“You had this incredible buzz that came from seeing Katie bowl with Lil Wayne,” Mr. Sussman said. “Every major hip-hop blog was talking about it. I heard from people who sampled [the Couric special] who had never heard of Lil Wayne but felt they had to now watch the Grammys to see what this guy would do.”
CBS also began promoting the Grammys on its own air very early, with spots touting the broadcast rolling out as soon as December.
Of course, the Grammy ratings gain wasn’t all about marketing. Mr. Sussman and Grammys executive producer Ken Ehrlich worked closely with the Recording Academy to ensure the tightest, most star-packed ceremony possible.
While the Oscars and Emmys have to contend with handing out awards to folks viewers have never heard of, fewer than a dozen statuettes were awarded during the Grammys—virtually all to household names.
This year’s show also boasted a broad cross-section of performers, from frothy pop stars (Ms. Perry, Ms. Cyrus) to hip-hop royalty (Jay-Z, Kanye West) to rock gods (Robert Plant, Paul McCartney).
“The filter I use is that we’ll be OK if my daughters want to watch it, my wife will watch it and my parents won’t leave the room,” Mr. Sussman said.
Still, no matter how good the broadcast, Mr. Sussman said that in 2009, it has become essential for networks to market awards shows relentlessly in order to woo back audiences.
“I don’t think you can just throw something on the air anymore and expect it to find the audience it’s historically found,” he said. “You have to get out there and fight for every ratings point.”

22 Comments

  1. Thanks for your visiting this http://www.watchau.com/replica-pens/ online store.

  2. Kudos for the great piece of writing. I am glad I have taken the time to read this.

  3. Great blog!! You should start many more. I love all the info provided. I will stay tuned 🙂

  4. You make blogging look like a walk in the park! I’ve been trying to blog daily but I just cant find writing material.. you’re an inspiration to me and i’m sure many others!

  5. I would like to start my own blog one day. This was a really nice blog that you made here. Keep up the success 😛

  6. This is good info! Where else can if ind out more?? Who runs this joint too? Keep up the good work 🙂

  7. Love all the opinions expressed here! How is everyone? Love how everyone expresses whatr they feel 🙂

  8. I would like to start my own blog one day. This was a really nice blog that you made here. Keep up the success 😛

  9. Nice blog here! Also your website loads up fast! What host are you using? I wish my website loaded up as fast as yours lol

  10. Dreamin. I love blogging. You all express your feelings the right way, because they are your feeling, focus on your blog it is great.

  11. Love the blog here. Nice colors. I am definitely staying tuned to this one. Hope to see more.

  12. Interesting thoughts here. I appreciate you taking the time to share them with us all. It’s people like you that make my day 🙂

  13. I would like to start my own blog one day. This was a really nice blog that you made here. Keep up the success 😛

  14. Great blog!! You should start many more. I love all the info provided. I will stay tuned 🙂

  15. Hi. First of all – interesting blog! Secondly this article was also good and interesting to read, but I don’t think everything you have said is how it is in reality. I will need to google about few things you have mentioned in your artcile to make sure. But anyway thanks for the great effort and good luck on writing other articles. P.S sorry for bad English, I aren’t English native speaker.

  16. Greetings. First of all – nice blog! Secondly this information was also good and interesting to read, but I don’t think everything you have said is completely true. I will need to google about few things you have mentioned in your artcile to make sure. But anyway thanks for the great effort and good luck on writing other articles. P.S sorry for bad English, I aren’t English native speaker.

  17. Nice!! Great Ifo. Great People. Great Blog. Thank you for all the great sharing that is being done here.

  18. Amazing freakin blog here. I almost cried while reading it!

  19. Dreamin. I love blogging. You all express your feelings the right way, because they are your feeling, focus on your blog it is great.

  20. Way to focus and straight to your point, i love it. Keep up the work people. Dont let anyone stop us bloggers.

Leave a Reply to kvepalai Cancel Reply

Email (will not be published)