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For any decades-old institution like an awards show, the challenge in recent years has been how to retain and connect with an increasingly attention-span-deprived young audience.
But as the saying goes, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em, and for the Grammys, which can historically be viewed as prime-time's hipper cousin to more formal events like the Academy Awards, creating awareness and interest in the 53rd annual installment of the event means giving young fans what they want where they want it: hip, up-and-coming artist nominees, a performance-loaded broadcast and outreach online.
"It's very important for us to cultivate an interest in three-and-a-half hours of television, but it goes beyond that, frankly," Recording Academy president/CEO Neil Portnow says.
In addition to booking and representing young talent on the stage of the event broadcast, the Recording Academy, for the third year, kicked off the season by televising and incorporating live performances into the nominations announcement.
Online elements like year-round outreach on Twitter and Facebook also play a key role in young audience retention, as does live streaming behind-the-scenes Grammy activities to make viewers feel a part of the action. So far, the strategy seems to be working-ratings in 2010 rose 36% from the previous year, to 25.9 million viewers overall, and were up 32% among adults ages 18-34, according to Nielsen. The previous year also saw an increase, with 19 million viewers, up from 17.2 million in 2008; almost a quarter of viewers in 2009 were ages 18-34, up from 21.9% in 2008.
"We've been doing a really good job and are committed to continue putting in the resources and energy and brainpower," Portnow says. "We want to encourage interest and loyalty to the brand and to promote the fact that what we stand for is celebrating excellence in music."