The politically charged MTV Video Music Awards tanked in the ratings on Monday, despite performances from Taylor Swift, Missy Elliott and a classic 1990s rap reunion.
The show was seen by 4.9 million viewers live on Monday across 12 different Viacom-owned networks, the Nielsen company said. That’s down from last year’s audience of 5.2 million, as the annual event has slid in television viewers each year since reaching 10.3 million in 2014.
MTV considers that more a reflection of changing media habits among young people than declining interest in its marquee show. The amount of young people watching cable television in general is rapidly shrinking, and social media measurements for the show are up, reflecting the different ways MTV’s audience consumes the programming.
For example, MTV aggressively pushes out clips of the show on social media platforms, and said those views were up 85 percent over last year and were the highest of any VMAs. In the weeks leading up the show, social media engagements — liking, sharing or commenting upon announcements about the event — more than doubled over last year. No TV program this summer triggered more social media activity, the network said.