LOS ANGELES (AdAge.com) -- Need further proof that social media has rescued live TV? Witness last night's Grammy Awards, which dominated not just Twitter's trending topics all of Sunday night and well into Monday morning, but the Nielsen ratings as well.
Sunday's night's telecast was the most-watched Grammys since 2001, with preliminary numbers showing that an average of 26.55 million viewers tuned in -- a 3% increase vs. last year's telecast. It was also the youngest-skewing telecast since 2004, with seven-year highs among 18-to-49-year-olds (up 1% vs. last year) and 18-to-34-year-olds (up 4% vs. last year.)
Such high numbers are likely due to the strength of early performances from artists such as Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga and a tribute to Aretha Franklin, but might have sustained due to surprise upsets from Grammy winners such as Esperanza Spalding (who won Best New Artist over Mr. Bieber) and Arcade Fire (the Canadian indie-rock band who won Album of the Year) later in the show.
Here's one moment that may have helped: Cee-Lo channeled Elton John's "Muppet Show" appearance to perform "Forget You" with Gwyneth Paltrow.
However, as TVByTheNumbers.com points out, the Grammys' ratings resurgence has not led to an increase in ad revenue in recent years. After the cost of 30-second spots peaked in 2005, at an average of $703,900, ads for the Grammys have been on the decline, according to the blog's data from Nielsen Audience Composition Reports and Nielsen Galaxy Explorer. Spots during the 2010 telecast went for an average of $425,727, according to the chart, an 11-year low. Final spot costs for this year's telecast have yet to be tabulated, but you can now expect spots to command a premium next year.
Renewed ratings momentum for the Grammys should bode well for the Academy Awards, which as Ad Age reported last week is seeking a younger viewing audience both on-air and online with an ambitious live-streaming effort planned for Oscar.com. ABC is charging an average $1.7 million for commercials during the 83rd annual telecast, a two-year high for 30-second spots.