Neil Portnow, Ken Ehrlich & Jack Sussman: The 2014 Billboard Power 100
NO. 61

Neil Portnow, Ken Ehrlich & Jack Sussman

Neil Portnow
President/CEO, The Recording Academy


Ken Ehrlich
Executive producer, Grammy Awards; Co-owner, Ken Ehrlich Productions


Jack Sussman
Executive VP of specials, music and live events, CBS Entertainment

The team that connects the Grammys with over 25 million viewers is growing their music TV strategy

The Grammy Awards were seen by 28.4 million viewers in 2013, the fourth year in a row the show’s audience has exceeded 25 million viewers, according to Nielsen.

Performances and wins on the show immediately propelled sales as 18 albums in the top 50 of the Billboard 200 immediately posted sales spikes after the telecast. Newer acts like Bruno Mars, Mumford & Sons and the Civil Wars have had the telecast play a crucial role in introducing them to a mass audience.

“It’s the mandate of this show,” Ken Ehrlich says. “It’s really important to celebrate artists who are very visible and multinominated, but it’s an obligation to expose some artists who don’t have that profile yet.”

Beyond the awards show, Neil Portnow oversees the Recording Academy’s involvement in educational, government and charitable efforts. Ehrlich, who last year produced the Emmy Awards and a Rolling Stones pay-per-view show, produces the Grammy nominations show and an annual special, which this year celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ stateside arrival. TV is central to the -Academy’s growth plan.

CBS, which has aired the Grammys since the early ’70s, has had significant ratings success with music programs under the watch of Jack Sussman. Beyond the Grammys, his schedule includes seven specials that will involve music, among them the Academy of Country Music Awards in April. Last year’s slate included a Garth Brooks special that pulled in 8.8 million viewers.