With returning hosts Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood and a much-talked-about performance by Taylor Swift, ABC's CMA Awards roped in their biggest audience in four years.
The 47th annual CMAs drew an average of 16.6 million viewers Wednesday night, up 21% compared with last year's telecast and the best performance in total viewers since 2009, according to early numbers from Nielsen.
In the advertiser-coveted young-adult demographic, the event drew a rating of 4.7, up 24% from last year, when the show aired on a Thursday. Compared with two years ago, the last time the show took place on a Wednesday, last night's rating was down slightly in the 18-to-49-year-old segment.
Legendary performer George Strait won the top prize, entertainer of the year, while Swift won the pinnacle award, honoring her worldwide success. During her performance, Swift was accompanied by an all-star band of country vets including Vince Gill, Alison Krauss and Sam Bush.
With the big music night, ABC was easily the top-rated network of the night, followed by CBS, which drew 9.25 million viewers on average and a rating of 2.2. (In 18-to-49, a rating point equals roughly 1.3 million viewers.)
It was ABC's highest-rated Wednesday night in two years.
CBS' "Survivor" increased its 18-to-49 rating 9% from last week to a 2.5, while "Criminal Minds" and "C.S.I." were both flat week-to-week, at a 2.4 and a 1.7, respectively.
Fox came in third, with "The X Factor" drawing 4.51 million viewers and a rating of 1.5.
On NBC, "Revolution" kicked things off with a 1.4 rating, holding steady with its previous three weeks, and "Law & Order: SVU" rose 7% to a 1.5.
CW had "Arrow," which jumped 25% to a 1.0, and "The Tomorrow People," which matched last week's 0.6.
Follow on Twitter: @rfaughnder
Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun