The MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs) aired on Sunday, and featured performances by P!nk, Kendrick Lamar, and Miley Cyrus; the debut of Taylor Swift's baller new video; a poor attempt at comedy by host Katy Perry; the distribution of gender-neutral "Moonperson" awards, and, oh yes, the lowest ratings ever for the awards show.
Just 5.4 million people tuned in to watch, which is just over half the number of people who watched the 2014 VMAs. About 6.5 million people watched the 2016 VMAs. Nielsen has been calculating the viewership of the VMAs since 1994.
That’s down from the 6.5 million people who watched the VMAs in 2016, and the 9.8 million who watched the year before, the Nielsen company said. In 2002, back when the show was seen only on MTV, the event drew 11.9 million viewers.
Audiences for awards shows in general are down this year, and MTV had the misfortune of competing with the season finale of HBO’s “Game of Thrones.” But it’s undeniable that MTV’s once-outrageous awards show is no longer the fodder for water cooler conversation that it once was.
While MTV blames the advent of streaming services for the drop in viewers (and Game of Thrones), perhaps there's another culprit: people who are sick of being pontificated to during what should be entertainment. Not everything has to be political and not everything should be political, but Katy Perry wasted zero time in lambasting President Donald Trump and the current political climate. (Badly. Katy Perry, I'd stay "stick to singing," but you don't appear to be all that great at that either right now.) Heck, the show's producers even played a song titled "F--k Donald Trump" to the audience during a commercial break. It's exhausting, and I don't blame people for not wanting to be subjected to a barrage of politics during what should be a fun couple of hours to unwind on a Sunday night.
Not everything should be "woke" at all times. If MTV stuck to entertaining, rather than preaching or nagging, maybe they'd see people actually tune in.