2020 MTV VMAs Draw 6.4 Million Viewers, Down 5% From Last Year

MTV’s “Total Minutes Consumed” for this year’s show is up 8% from the 2019 VMAs

2020 MTV Video Music Awards
Photo Illustration by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

The simulcast of the 2020 MTV Video Music Awards drew 6.4 million total linear viewers on Sunday — counting the pre-show, post-show, main show and encores — which is down 5% from the comparable 6.8 million tally for last year’s show, according to MTV.

MTV’s research and PR teams combined Nielsen’s linear numbers for the 2020 VMAs with their own internal digital data into a new measurement called “Total Minutes Consumed” (TMC), which they say came to 1.330 billion versus the 1.229 billion the awards show put up in 2019.

In an effort to attract cord-cutters to the annual special, ViacomCBS made the 2020 VMAs, hosted by Keke Palmer, available on The CW (a broadcast network co-owned by ViacomCBS and WarnerMedia), marking the first time the VMAs have been free to watch via antennas.

Last night’s show was broadcast from 8-10 p.m. across 13 networks total, including VMAs newcomers The CW and cable channel Pop, as well as MTV, VH1, Comedy Central, Nick At Night, TV Land, MTV2, Logo, Paramount Network, BET, BET Her and CMT, which all aired last year’s VMAs.

On The CW alone, the 2020 VMAs managed a 0.2 rating among adults 18-49 and 871,000 total viewers.

With an 11-network simulcast, the 2019 MTV VMAs, hosted by comedian Sebastian Maniscalco, drew 4.9 million total viewers in Nielsen’s Live + Same Day ratings, flat with the previous year (when the VMAs aired across eight networks).

In the key 18-49 demo, last year’s Video Music Awards slipped 6% year over year — just like the 2018 version had 12 months earlier. Though -6% is a fairly modest decline for awards shows (or any show, really) these days, the simulcast ratings still means 2019 set a new VMAs-record low, according to Nielsen.

The comparable Nielsen data for the 2020 VMAs (so numbers for just the 2-hour awards show, not the tally that combines those numbers with the pre-show, post-show and encores) was not available at the time of publication.

The “Total Minutes Consumed” (TMC) metric used for Sunday’s VMAs — and for the group’s other upcoming tentpole telecasts, we’re told — included the VMAs pre-show, main show, simulcasts, repeat airings and “support programming leading up to the main event,” in MTV’s words.

MTV added up all the TV minutes with watch-time data across Twitter Live, Facebook, Snapchat, YouTube and other owned & operated websites and apps.

Though the TMC tally is not directly comparable to what has been reported in the past, MTV said Monday that the TMC for this year’s show was up 8% from the 2019 VMAs.


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