Ratings: MTV’s Video Music Awards Viewership Falls 34%

Rihanna [VMAs via MTV Press]

The first wave of ratings data has emerged for Sunday’s MTV Video Music Awards ceremony, and it is not good.

Sunday’s show was simulcast across 11 Viacom networks. According to multiple sources, including THR, those 11 concurrent broadcasts drew a combined audience of 6.5 million live+same-day viewers.

That marks a 34% decline from the 9.8 million total audience attained by last year’s show.

The broadcast on the main MTV network also suffered a year-to-year loss. More granular data, including network-by-network breakdowns and performances in the adults 18-49 demographic, will be available Tuesday.

Amid the decline in linear TV performance, MTV is shifting attention to the show’s digital performance. A network press release touts substantial year-over-year increases in video streams (including show highlights/clips/performances).

Sunday’s ceremony featured a lengthy performance by Beyonce, a series of performances by Video Vanguard Award winner Rihanna, and musical numbers from Britney Spears & G-Eazy, The Chainsmokers & Halsey, Ariana Grande & Nicki Minaj and Nick Jonas & Ty Dolla $ign. It also featured a Kanye West monologue — and the premiere of his “Fade” video.

MTV, curiously, opted not to promote many of the performances until late in the game. Several were announced just days before the live broadcast, and Beyonce’s set was not announced until hours before the show went live.

Written by Brian Cantor

Brian Cantor is the editor-in-chief for Headline Planet. He has been a leading reporter in the music, movie, television and sporting spaces since 2002.

Brian's reporting has been cited by major websites like BuzzFeed, Billboard, the New Yorker and The Fader -- and shared by celebrities like Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber and Nicki Minaj.

Contact Brian at brian.cantor[at]


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