MTV Video Music Awards Hit an All-Time Ratings Low — for the Third Straight Year

Ratings for the MTV Video Music Awards just took another bath.

The 2019 awards show, which broadcasted on August 26th, was watched by a new all-time-low number of viewers.  Just 1.93 million fans tuned in for the program on MTV, down from 2.25 million in 2018.  The highly coveted 18-49 demographic also slipped, with this year’s VMAs putting in a 0.9 rating against last year’s 1.1. 2017’s VMAs attracted 5.4 million watchers.

Furthermore, the 2019 VMAs aired live on all Viacom stations, including MTV, MTV2, BET, Paramount Network, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, VH1, and others. The ratings total peaked at 4.9 million, down from 2018’s 5.2 million.

This trend of decreasing viewership isn’t new. The VMAs garnered 10.3 million viewers in 2014, 9.8 million viewers in 2015, and 6.5 million viewers in 2016.

Whatever the cause of this continual ratings decline, it can be stated with confidence that a lack of star power isn’t to blame.

The 2019 VMAs were hosted by comedian Sebastian Maniscalco, who has a prominent role in The Irishman, Martin Scorsese’s highly anticipated upcoming film. Numerous high-profile artists performed live, including Taylor Swift, Shawn Mendes, the Jonas Brothers, and Miley Cyrus, amongst others. Additionally, numerous musicians and celebrities were featured in the audience.

While MTV execs were disappointed by the drop in television viewers, they did tout an uptick in social-media engagements. The additional social media interactions, although significant, are unlikely to bring major increases in ad revenue and sponsors.

Taylor Swift was given a Video of the Year Award for “You Need to Calm Down,” and Ariana Grande was voted Artist of the Year. Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus accepted a Song of the Year Award for “Old Town Road.” BTS, or Bangtan Boys, was named Group of the Year.

9 Responses

  1. Milton Allen

    “Whatever the cause”??? The cause is the injection of politics in Awards shows. They might get enthusiastic applause at the venue, but viewers at home aren’t buying it. Wake Up! Tickets sold out, but viewership declining.

  2. x

    Milton, It’s not politics. It’s that no one watches MTV for music videos any more, they watch Youtube.

  3. Anonymous

    Viewers!!! Hahaha. I thought this was 2000 when I read that. They had massive streaming numbers and impressions. Wake up dinosaurs.

  4. Blobbo

    As long as MTV broadcasts reality tv trash, and ignores music, this is the result. Add to that the fact that music sucks so bad these days, and top spots are reserved for pablum dinosaurs like Taylor Swift, Bruno Slop, and the never-to-go-away Beyo9nce and JayZ, this is also the result.

  5. JustMe2225

    Why is this awards show on “TV”?????? Why is it not pay per stream… per half hour or full show? (“While MTV execs were disappointed by the drop in television viewers, they did tout an uptick in social-media engagements.”) It should only be digital streaming… just like the videos themselves are consumed. Why would you expect video viewers to change platforms just to view ad supported “TV”. What do the videos have to do w. Comedy Central? Consumer-centricity is completely lacking. Stop thinking like a 1980’s ad sales person.

    • JustMe2225

      PS- these are video awards, not tv metric awards. WHY are “networks” involved in this at all, and why track tv metrics for video streaming. makes no sense. apples & oranges.

  6. Yep.

    Their high social media engagement is because they were being criticized for adding a certain award and group for clout, and to up their viewer count. Backfired beautifully as you can see.

  7. Herry

    So, this is where all the toilet bowl inhabitants gather. Glad I wasn’t there.