CBS’ telecast of the 55th ceremony rounded up 28.4 million total viewers, according to Nielsen. That was the second-largest audience for the recording industry’s annual awards show in the last 20 years.
The largest audience in recent years was for last year’s Grammys, which drew 39.9 million — the type of crowd usually seen only for the Oscars and a few other TV events. But that show captured wide viewer interest due to the sudden death one day earlier of 1980s pop diva Whitney Houston. The show turned into an impromptu memorial to the late singer, with Jennifer Hudson singing Houston’s signature, “I Will Always Love You.”
This year, the show’s ratings returned more to form. The 2011 Grammys drew 26.6 million viewers.
Even so, the results were strong as producers packed in performances from Frank Ocean, Justin Timberlake, Sting, Mavis Staples and more. Swift kicked off the show with an elaborately produced set piece that seemed to be borrowed from “Alice in Wonderland.” Other major stars performed in all-star medleys, including Elton John, Rihanna, Bruno Mars and Ziggy Marley.
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