No one can say that Grammy Award organizers aren't quick learners when it comes to scheduling. This year they were rewarded for it.

An estimated 20.1 million people watched the Dixie Chicks' defiant night on the Grammy Awards Sunday, up 18 percent from last year for what used to be considered the music industry's biggest night on television, according to Nielsen Media Research.

Last year Grammy organizers decided to move the ceremony from its usual Sunday perch for a Wednesday opposite "American Idol," and the awards show's audience of 17 million was its lowest ever.

This year the Grammys moved back to Sunday night. The show even gave a nod of respect to "American Idol" by holding a contest where an amateur singer had a spotlight duet with Justin Timberlake.

Singer Carrie Underwood of "American Idol" won the Grammy for best new artist, and thanked the show that gave her a start.

Grammy ratings were also up from two years ago, when "Desperate Housewives" was at its peak and cut into the Grammy audience, Nielsen said.

The biggest night in music now? It's the night each May when a new "American Idol" is crowned. Expected viewership: well north of 35 million.