Grammys Ratings Soar, Nab Second-Largest Audience Ever

Grammys 2012: Photos From The Show and Backstage

Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett, who duet on "The Lady is a Tramp" from the music legend's "Duets II" album, hung out at the 54th Annual Grammy Awards.

The death of Whitney Houston and the return of Adele pushed ratings for the Grammy Awards telecast to a level not seen since the days of Michael Jackson and "Thriller."

Sunday's CBS broadcast of the 54th annual Grammy Awards was seen by more than 39 million people, according to Nielsen's preliminary ratings that account for live and DVR viewing. It was the second most watched Grammy telecast since 1984 when 51.67 million people watched Jackson take home eight trophies. The following year's telecast pulled in 37 million and the last time the Grammys even topped 30 million was 1988.

The Grammy Awards ratings have spiked three years in a row after a roller-coaster ride through the early part of the decade. The 2011 telecast pulled in 26.67 million viewers while 2010 had 25.87 million tuning in after five consecutive years of less than 20.1 million viewers.

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The recent spike had helped advertising rates on the show grow to a reported $800,000 for a 30-second spot. Last year's average was a record $621,000.

Large as the audience was, it was mostly outside the key 18-49 demographic. Nielsen reported that more than 18 million viewers were in the 18-49 demo, the best score since 1990. Adults 25-54 posted their best ratings since 1988 (16.1 rating) and adults 18-34 were the best since 2001 (13.5).