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TV Ratings: VMAs Grow Streaming Viewership, Hold Close to Previous Linear Levels

MTV’s decision to move the Video Music Awards from Sunday night to Monday paid off.

The VMAs saw a slight decline in total linear viewers as its online viewing levels grew. The Monday night’s show averaging 5.234 million across 11 networks, according to Nielsen live-plus-same day numbers, down 8% from last year — a significantly less severe linear decline than  the VMAs and other awards shows have experienced in years past. In the 18-49 demo, the show averaged a 2.34 rating, down just three tenths of a point from last year. In viewers 18-plus, the main demo that MTV sells against for the VMAs, Monday night’s show averaged a 1.88 rating, down just one tenth from last year.

Those linear declines were slight compared to the larger ratings drops experienced in recent years by major awards shows such as the Grammys and the Academy Awards. They were also largely made up for by an increase in digital viewing. According to internal numbers provided by MTV, the show drew 141.6 million digital streams, making it the most streamed awards show in Viacom history. Social engagement for the VMAs was up 46% according to MTV data from measurement firm Delmondo. Engagement spiked around several key moments in the show, including performances by Jennifer Lopez and Logic, the announcement of a reboot of “The Hills” coming to MTV, and an appearance late in the program by Madonna.

The increase in streaming and engagement is a positive sign for youth-skewing MTV, which has shifted in recent years with the VMAs to a monetization strategy that emphasizes digital. Roughly 80% of the ad and sponsorship packages for this year’s VMAs were sold against a mix of digital and linear.

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