Given a choice between Desperate Housewives and desperately off-pitch housewife Jennifer Lopez, viewers voted overwhelmingly for the former on Sunday night. It’s rare for a regularly scheduled series episode to beat a big awards show like the Grammys, but that’s what happened. According to Nielsen, 22.1 million watched the ABC dramedy, while CBS’ 3 1/2-hour awards telecast averaged just 18.8 million, making it the least-watched Grammy show since 1995.
Despite the presence of top-selling acts like Usher, Tim McGraw, and Maroon 5 (as well as such curiosities as the first-ever live duet between newlyweds J. Lo and Marc Anthony), the Grammy audience was down more than 7 million from last year’s show, whose draws included OutKast and Justin Timberlake, who apologized on-air for exposing Janet Jackson’s breast to the world the week before at the Super Bowl. Much of the audience defection can be credited to the popularity of Housewives, which has performed similar hit jobs on other awards shows this year. Even as Teri Hatcher and her costars were picking up trophies at the Golden Globes on NBC, plenty of fans were watching them in character on Wisteria Lane, with the Globe telecast down 10 million viewers, more than 30 percent, from last year. The People’s Choice Awards on CBS also took a 30 percent hit. Good thing for the Oscars that they’re on ABC and will pre-empt Housewives.