No matter whose side you’re on in the argument about Viacom’s ratings problem, you found fodder in Sunday’s MTV Video Music Awards. Streams of the popular awards show rose 155 percent this year, to more than 19 million, according to Adobe. And for a second consecutive year, the VMAs also ruled the roost on social media, generating 21.4 million tweets that reached 11.8 million people that night, according to Nielsen.
The show’s Nielsen ratings, however, which still form the foundation of most advertiser decision-making, went the other way. Despite being simulcast across 10 Viacom-owned channels (MTV, MTV2, VH1, VH1 Classic, CMT, Logo, BET, Centric, Comedy Central and TV Land), the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards drew just 9.8 million people, down from last year’s total of 10.3 million people. Last year, the VMAs were simulcast on four channels, including MTV2, but the show’s ratings sagged badly, dropping 18 percent from 2013 to 2014.
Though the VMAs claimed more young, impressionable, 12-24-year-old eyeballs than anybody else, that demographic is mostly abandoning traditional television programming.
Over the past few years, the youth-oriented TV channel, which already has begun to move on from millennials, has struggled mightily with its ratings, swearing up and down that its highly coveted young audience is simply getting its MTV elsewhere, either in the form of digital clips or on-demand, at another time other than live viewing.