According to The Hollywood Reporter, this year's VMAs pulled in 1.93 million viewers and a 0.9 rating among adults 18-49, making it the lowest-rated show in its history. The new low comes after last year's previous low, when the 2018 VMAs generated 2.25 million viewers and a 1.1 rating for its target demographic. Despite the 6 point drop, the VMAs still faired better than comparable award shows. Per THR, this year's MTV Movie and TV Awards, Teen Choice Awards, Tony Awards, and Billboard Music Awards all scored lower ratings.
What helped salvage the VMAs was Viacom's approach to airing the show. Instead of just showing the awards on its MTV channels, the company decided to simulcast the VMAs on all 12 of its Viacom networks, including VH1, Nickelodeon/Nick at Nite, Comedy Central, BET, Paramount Network, CMT, MTV2, TV Land, MTV Classic, MTV, Logo, and BETHer.
Social engagement also proved to be a bright spot for the broadcast. According to Conviva Social Insights, the VMAs' online and social video views were up 85% in comparison to last year. Along with MTV's emphasis on reaching its younger, core audience through social media, the show saw a jump in viewership from older audiences. Ratings for adults aged 25-54 jumped 6 percent, which could be attributed to Missy Elliott winning the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award and a closing performance that was headlined by legacy acts like Ice T, Queen Latifah, Naughty By Nature, and Redman.