The VMAs were huge on Twitter, but tanking on TV.
MTV’s annual Video Music Awards utterly tanked in television ratings, with the total audience dropped 23% according to Nielsen stats just released. Viacom absolutely blasted the show across 10 different network channels, drawing a total audience of roughly 6.5 million. Sounds great, except that is 34% lower than the same draw (across 11 channels last year).
The show was spread across MTV, MTV2, MTV Classic, VH1, Comedy Central, Spike, TV Land, BET, CMT, Centric and Logo, among others, though it’s unclear whether that mega-spread strategy makes sense anymore. Last year, the awards show garnered 9.8 million viewers, according to Nielsen, itself a small drop from 10.3 million in 2014.
A drop in tube ratings is hardly a shocker, especially given the target audience. But Viacom and MTV enjoyed a massive surge on digital channels. According to the network, live streams topped 62.8 million, a giant surge of 70% from last year. Twitter was also getting clogged for hours by VMA-related tweets, with the network estimating that 90% of TV-specific tweets involved the awards show.
Indeed, #VMAs was a trending hashtag for a monstrous 13 hours surrounding the show. That was propelled by heavy celebrities like Beyonce and Kanye West, who unsurprisingly counted himself among a list of inspiration luminaries that included Steve Jobs, Howard Hughes, Harry Truman, and Walt Disney.
Equally unsurprising was the flood of Facebook views. On that platform, MTV reported 45.8 million video streams, another big win in Facebook’s growing war against YouTube.
Overall, those are monstrous digital gains that MTV is putting front-and-center (for obvious reasons). But precipitous TV-based declines introduce tricky monetization and advertising questions.
Interestingly, the VMAs numbers contrast with the Grammys, which is drawing impressive crowds across traditional and digital channels alike. But maybe Grammys are next: the VMA plunge follows heavy ratings drops for a slate of mega-live events, including the Olympics, Emmys, and Oscars. That suggests a continued shift towards cord-cutting hours, including online and ‘over-the-top’ binging.
More as this develops.