The 2021 Grammy awards show provided viewers with an array of historic milestones, especially for female artists, but far fewer people tuned in to see those memorable moments than usual during music’s biggest annual event.
Sunday night’s broadcast on CBS offered gave Beyoncé a record-breaking number of wins, and offered an eye-popping performance from Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion and a slate of styles from celebrities who mostly joined the festivities remotely.
The broadcast had 8.8 million total viewers across multiple platforms, down 10 million viewers from last year’s telecast of 18.8 million total viewers, the Wrap reported.
The figure approximately halves the annual CBS awards show’s previous record-low audience of 16.9 million total viewers in 2006.
The primetime special, hosted by Trevor Noah of ‘The Daily Show,’ had a 2.1 rating among adults 18-49, according to Nielsen.
The prior low was set last year, when the Grammy Awards received a 5.4 rating in the key demo.
Host Trevor Noah at the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, California, March 14. The broadcast had 8.8 million total viewers across multiple platforms
The Grammy Awards viewership in millions between 2002 and 2021
The event regularly draws criticism, struggling with accusations of racism and rigged voting.
Like most other public events in the past year, the coronavirus pandemic forced the awards show into a more subdued setting, filmed at the LA Convention Center with streamed appearances from venues around the country.
Last year, 18.7 million viewers tuned into the event, broadcast from the Staples Center in Los Angeles in pre-pandemic January.
Viewership decreased about 1.2 million from 2019, when the program experienced a boost in viewers to 19.9 million after 2018’s poor showing.
Beyoncé had four wins and became the most decorated woman in Grammys history.
Her single ‘Black Parade’ took home the record-setting win for best R&B performance after she received honors for best music video and shared best rap song and best rap performance with Megan Thee Stallion.
The best rap performance award was also historical, with Megan Thee Stallion and Beyoncé becoming the first female pair to win the category for their remix of ‘Savage.’
Cardi B performing onstage during the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards ceremony at the Los Angeles Convention Center on March 14
Beyoncé accepts the Best Rap Performance award for ‘Savage’ during the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards at the Los Angeles Convention Center on March 14
Beyoncé, left, and Megan Thee Stallion accept the Best Rap Performance award for ‘Savage’ on March 14 in Los Angeles
‘As an artist, I believe it’s my job and all of our jobs to reflect the times and it’s been such a difficult time,’ Beyoncé said. ‘So I wanted to uplift, encourage and celebrate all the beautiful black kings and queens that continue to inspire me and inspire the whole world.’
‘This is so overwhelming,’ she added. ‘I’ve been working my whole life since 9 years old and I can’t believe this happened. This is such a magical night.’
She also thanked her ‘rock’ and husband, Jay-Z, who cheered from a spot in the socially-distanced audience.
Billie Eilish won her second consecutive Record of the Year for ‘Everything I Wanted,’ while Taylor Swift won her third Album of the Year, the most ever by any woman, for her quarantine LP ‘Folklore.’
Taylor Swift accepts the Grammy for Album of the Year for ‘Folklore’ at the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards March 14
Gabriella Sarmiento Wilson, known professionally as H.E.R., left, and Tiara Thomas accept the Song of the Year award for ‘I Can’t Breathe’
H.E.R. captured Song of the Year for ‘I Can’t Breathe,’ written after George Floyd’s murder and the Black Lives Matter movement that intensified afterward.
Women artists also had memorable performances, including Billie Eilish, Brittany Howard and Best New Artist winner Megan Thee Stallion with Cardi B in their first live production of their No. 1 hit ‘WAP.’
South Korean boy band BTS made further inroads with a new American audience.
BTS performs ‘Dynamite’ at the 63rd annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles on March 14
Trevor Noah, left, and Ringo Starr appear on stage at the 63rd annual Grammy Awards at the Los Angeles Convention Center on March 14