Breaking: VMA Ratings Plunge 34%…

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.

7 Responses

  1. Gaetano

    Not really too surprised. The show has gotten less interesting over the years, and of far lesser quality. Performances usually suck.


    Not a single one of those whores pictured above deserves to be called “music.” No one cares what Kenya has to say. These idiots think their egos alone will pass for “music” but people are sick of hearing their lazy autotuned BULLSHIT. People are hungry for real musicians.

    As a real musician once said, MTV GET OFF THE AIR. And take every one of those autotuned celebutards playing at being musicians with you.

  3. Anon

    Facebook views = every time a video is scrolled by in the news feed. It’s a false statistic that doesn’t mean anything. At least on YouTube you have to reach a watch-time threshold.

    • Correction

      A lot of videos go by that news feed and don’t even get close to those amount of views.By your logic most videos SHOULD be doing as large or even MORE,but that is not the average,so it’s not false and met something.

  4. JES

    Unfortunately the VMA’s have turned into a platform for hip-hop first, everything else after or not-at-all. The “host/comedians” were shrill, noisy and not funny. The performances were 2nd rate except for Beyonce, who put everyone else to shame. Kanye made little sense, as usual, and his “art” video was been-there done-that. The “Song of The Summer” isn’t even in the Top 40 on Billboard. Britney posing and lip-synching – ooh. Rihanna should have done one good performance instead of 3 terrible ones and one that started to show off her real talent. And there was no reason for this show to have gone overtime with so little content. MTV has lost its way – since when do they show videos anyway? Really liked Nick Jonas – that young man has class. Ariana Grande does not need Nicki Minaj – just sing, girl. And everyone take lessons from Beyonce.