'American Idol' Crushes Grammys in Ratings
NEW YORK - Some humbling news for professional musicians like Madonna and U2: By a wide margin, TV viewers prefer the amateurs.
Nearly twice as many people — 28.3 million — watched "American Idol" than watched the Grammy Awards — 15.1 million — when the two music programs went head-to-head in prime time Wednesday, according to Nielsen Media Research.
In large part due to the "American Idol" competition, it was the least-watched Grammy Awards in Nielsen records dating back to the 1970s.
It certainly wasn't what CBS, Grammy producers or the struggling music industry anticipated after packing the show with star-studded performances. Kanye West, Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, Kelly Clarkson, Mariah Carey, Jay-Z and Christina Aguilera all performed, and the show also featured a colorful appearance by reclusive star Sly Stone.
During the 8 to 9 p.m. EST hour, when the Grammys competed directly with "American Idol," the awards show featured Madonna, John Legend, Coldplay and U2 — with the Irish rock band's duet with Mary J. Blige arguably the evening's most thrilling moment.
After "Idol" went off the air, the Grammys picked up a little steam. For its full three-and-a-half hours, the Grammy Awards' average viewership was 17 million people.
The least-watched Grammy telecast was in 1995 when the show was watched by 17.2 million people. Last year's show was seen by 18.8 million people, with 26.3 million viewers in 2004.
Former "American Idol" winner Kelly Clarkson won two Grammys, but didn't mention the Fox show in her tearful acceptance speeches.
The music pros can take a little comfort in at least slowing the "American Idol" momentum. It was the first time in seven telecasts this season that "Idol" was seen by fewer than 30 million people.