MTV VMAs Slip in Ratings to Set Another Record Low

Simulcast is down 6 percent from 2017

VMAS 2018 Jennifer Lopez
Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images

The VMAs took a hit Monday night, marking another record low for the MTV awards show, which went host-less this year.

The annual awards spectacle — which this year boasted performances by Jennifer Lopez, Ariana Grande and Shawn Mendes, among others — has grappled with the same linear viewership declines that have plagued many other awards shows in recent years, and Monday’s simulcast dropped a further six percent from last year’s previous record-low among adults 18-49, according to numbers from Nielsen.

On MTV alone, the 2018 VMAs received 2.25 million viewers and a 1.1 rating in the adults 18-49 range, putting it down 15 percent in overall eyeballs and 21 percent in the demo from last year’s totals. In all, the show aired across eight Viacom-owned channels.

Still, MTV was the No. 1 network among viewers 18-34 viewers Monday night across all primetime TV, including cable and broadcast. The show also saw a spike in digital viewership, indicative of the MTV target audience’s shifting viewing habits. Per Viacom, the 2018 VMAs was the most streamed awards show in MTV and Viacom history, with 141.6 million streams, up 46 percent from last year.

Aside from a few high-wattage performances, the 2018 VMAs were otherwise low on star-power. More than a few of the night’s big winners, including Beyonce, Jay-Z, Childish Gambino, Kendrick Lamar and Rihanna, were noticeably absent, as were some of music’s other big names, including Drake, Taylor Swift and Kanye West.

The night’s most talked-about moment came when Madonna was enlisted to present the video of the year award to former Fifth Harmony member Camila Cabello and gave a long speech about the influence of the late soul icon Aretha Franklin on her career that struck the wrong chord with viewers.