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MTV may air VMAs live across all time zones in future to avoid social media spoilers

Viewership on TV dropped by 3.3 million in 2016.


Tess Cagle


Published Aug 31, 2016   Updated May 26, 2021, 3:27 am CDT

As streaming continues to grow in popularity, MTV says it’s considering airing the Video Music Awards live across all time zones in future years, according to Billboard. The consideration is on the table after TV ratings of the VMAs dropped while livestreams of the show skyrocketed.

The network told Billboard on Tuesday there were 149 million streams of the VMAs on Sunday and Monday, which was a combination of streaming through MTV’s website and footage on Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube. For the 2015 VMAs, the number of streams was 30.7 million.

Meanwhile, the awards show was watched by 6.5 million people the traditional way–on television–where MTV airs the show live at 9pm on the east coast and, then, via tape delay at the same hour in other time zones. That’s a 3.3 million drop in viewers from last year when 9.8 million people tuned in. Only 3.3 million people watched the VMAs on MTV.

“In a world where you are multi-platforming, when I can experience it on my feed from my friends on Facebook who are in New York, are you better off just going live?” MTV President Sean Atkins asked Billboard. “You give everyone essentially equal access to every platform at the same time.”

On Twitter, much of the buzz surrounding the VMAs on Sunday was about streaming. Fans voiced frustration over trying to find streams while others commended the VMAs for putting a stream on its website.

The change for MTV is a reflection of how fans consume content in 2016. In 2015, Nielsen Company said television ownership dropped from 98.9 percent to 96.7 percent due to the increase in purchases of laptops and smartphones. The company noted that while television still dominates media consumption in traditional households, a large portion of younger consumers are learning to live without. 

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*First Published: Aug 31, 2016, 5:17 am CDT