TV Ratings: Whitney Houston Tributes Push Grammys to Largest Audience Since 1984

Jennifer Hudson's Whitney Tribute

There was no better performer to pay homage to Whitney Houston than Jennifer Hudson, who idolized the late superstar as a young girl growing up on Chicago's South Side. Hudson, an Oscar winner and celebrated singer in her own right, performed an emotional rendition of Houston's hit, "I Will Always Love You," appearing on the verge of tears. She ended the song with a lyrical switch, singing: "Whitney, we love, we love you."

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Though no definitive correlation can be drawn as to why the Grammys saw their greatest numbers since 1984, it seems obvious that interest in the musical kudos comes from the Saturday death of singer Whitney Houston.

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After producers scrambled to find fitting tributes to the late singer on less than a day's notice, fast affiliate ratings give the broadcast a whopping 39 million viewers -- its second largest ever -- and a 14.1 rating in adults 18-49. The demo showing matches its best performance since 1990 and marks a 41 percent jump over last year.

Last year's Grammys earned a 10.0 in adults 18-49 and 26.7 million viewers.

The three-and-a-half-hour awards propelled CBS to an easy win for the night, pulling a net 11.5 in adults 18-49 and 34.5 million viewers (a 2.3-rated 60 Minutes led into the broadcast).

The race for runner-up was a tight one, with ABC, Fox and NBC all giving similar showings. ABC eked out ahead of the competition with a 1.9 among adults 18-49, though. America's Funniest Home Videos saw the network's only gains, pushing 5 percent to a 2.0, while Once Upon a Time dropped 14 percent from its last original. Taking steeper drops were Desperate Housewives (1.8) and Pan Am (0.7), both down to series lows in 18-49-ers.

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Fox kicked off the night with an encore of Bob's Burgers, followed by originals from its animation line-up and earning a 1.7 in the adults demo.

NBC, boosted by a 2.0 from Nightline in the first hour, came in fourth with a 1.5 in 18-49-ers for the night. A two-hour Fear Factor was down 35 percent to a 1.5, a series low.

Sunday, Feb. 12, Overnight Ratings:

7 p.m.
CBS: 60 Minutes (14.5 million viewers, 2.9 rating among adults 18-49)
NBC: Dateline (8.5 million viewers, 2.0)
ABC: America's Funniest Home Videos (7.8 million, 2.0)
Fox: Bob's Burgers (R) (1.9 million, 0.7)

7:30 p.m.
Fox: The Cleveland Show (2.7 million, 1.2)

8 p.m.
CBS: The 54th Annual Grammy Awards (40.7 million, 13.8)
ABC: Once Upon a Time (8.6 million, 3.0)
Fox: The Simpsons (4.3 million, 2.0)
NBC: Dateline (5.2 million, 1.2)

8:30 p.m.
Fox: Napoleon Dynomite (3.8 million, 1.7)

9 p.m.
CBS: The 54th Annual Grammy Awards (42.6 million, 14.9)
Fox: Family Guy (4.98 million, 2.5)
ABC: Desperate Housewives (6.3 million, 1.8)
NBC: Fear Factor (5.2 million, 1.2)

9:30 p.m.
Fox: American Dad (3.5 million, 1.7)

10 p.m.
CBS: The 54th Annual Grammy Awards (40.2 million, 14.6)
NBC: Fear Factor (4.1 million, 1.6)
ABC: Pan Am (2.6 million, 0.7)