Viewership for the Grammy Awards hit a 12-year low on Sunday night, drawing an audience of 18.7 million who watched it live on television.
That is the lowest number for the Grammys since 2008, when Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab” won song of the year. But it represents a dip of only 5 percent versus last year’s ceremony, a modest decrease in a time when more people are switching to streaming.
Other awards shows have had sharp ratings decreases in recent years, but viewership for the Grammys, which is broadcast annually on CBS, has remained fairly constant. The audience for Sunday night was more than the 18.3 million viewers who tuned in for the Golden Globes ceremony this month and it most likely ensures that the Grammys will finish as the second-most-watched awards program, behind the Academy Awards.
Last year, Emmy Awards ratings fell a jaw-dropping 32 percent, down to a record low of 6.9 million viewers. The Oscars, to be held next month without a host for a second year in a row, had an audience of 29.6 million viewers last year, a strong rebound versus its record low of 26.5 million in 2018.
At Sunday’s ceremony, the 18-year-old singer Billie Eilish won big, taking home the top awards for album, new artist, record and song of the year, the first time in 39 years that an artist had swept the four top prizes.
The awards show threatened to be overshadowed by the news of Kobe Bryant’s death, which hit the internet hours before show time. Outside the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles — the longtime home of the Grammys, and Mr. Bryant’s stage for most of his career as a Los Angeles Laker — a vigil emerged, with fans in Bryant jerseys mourning outside the arena.
Toward the start of the show, Alicia Keys, the host, acknowledged “feeling crazy sadness right now.”
“We’re literally standing here heartbroken in the house that Kobe Bryant built,” she said.
Tensions within the Recording Academy, the nonprofit organization that oversees the Grammy Awards, provided another distraction. Ten days before the show, the Recording Academy suspended its chief executive, Deborah Dugan, who had joined the organization in August, saying she had been accused of bullying by an assistant and then sought a $22 million payout to leave quietly, a charge Ms. Dugan denied. Ms. Dugan accused the academy last week of retaliation because of her efforts at investigating sexual harassment and voting irregularities within the group.
CBS did not disclose how many people watched Sunday night’s ceremony on its CBS All Access streaming service but said on Monday that it “marked the most-streamed Grammys on the service to date.”