The 2012 ceremony, which saw an absent Katy Perry bag five gongs, averaged a decent 8.9m for CBS between 9pm and 11pm.
However, the 2.5 18-49 adult demo rating is its lowest on record, excluding the 2008 screening which occurred during the WGA strike.
Nonetheless, ABC's Modern Family (12.3m/5.1), Happy Endings (7.1m/3.1) and Revenge (7.5m/2.4) were all hit by last night's event.
Meanwhile, NBC's Harry's Law (8.7m/1.4) and Law & Order: SVU (8.4m/2.0) were up on their last original episodes.
New Laura Prepon comedy Are You There, Chelsea? premiered with 6.4m (2.3) for NBC at 8.30pm, prior to which 6.1m (2.1) followed Whitney to its new Wednesday 8pm timeslot.
The Peacock Network pipped CBS's repeat of Criminal Minds (8.9m/2.0), but was unable to get the better of ABC's The Middle (9.6m/3.0) and Suburgatory (9m/2.9) duo.
The CW's One Tree Hill (1.8m/0.9) returned with decent numbers, tying with Fox's rerun of Mobbed (2.7m/0.9).
At 9pm, a new Mobbed instalment logged 3.3m (1.3), while an old edition of One Tree Hill had 820k (0.3).