- The 2020 MTV Video Music Awards will be the 37th annual presentation.
- The 2019 Video Music Awards drew the lowest viewership in the show’s history.
- The 2020 Video Music Awards will take place on August 30, 2020.
It’s never a good sign when a double digit viewership decline is being spun as a positive. That’s the case with the MTV Video Music Awards which attracted an all time low viewership for the third consecutive year in 2019. MTV pointed to the fact that the drop in viewership wasn’t as severe as in previous years as a sign of traction along with ‘social and online video engagement’. Realistically speaking, the relevance of MTV in the new world of digital content is dubious at best which further undermines the significance of the VMA’s. The show (and network) long ago abandoned any pretense of being ‘edgy’ or anywhere but well within the boundaries of the mainstream corporate music industry. Today, it’s much like the Grammy Awards–the same ‘mainstream’ artists win award after award as an ever shrinking ‘lowest common denominator’ audience tunes in to watch.
It’s amazing how quickly and how decisively the VMA’s audience has declined. In 2011 the show did a 10.8 rating with a viewership of 12.4 million. In 2012, the show did a 2.8 rating with just 6.13 million viewers. At least the network had an excuse that year–the party line was that the rescheduling of the show from 9 PM to 8 PM to avoid conflict with President Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention. Unfortunately, the decline has continued and there are no more excuses. The VMA’s rebounded in 2013 with a 7.8 rating and a viewership of 10.1 million though that was two points and over 2 million viewers less than 2011.
MTV VMA VIEWERSHIP CIRCLING DOWN THE DRAIN
Since then the bottom has fallen out. In 2014, the VMA’s lost nearly 2 million more viewers and in 2015 they lost over 3 million more. This happened despite a tactical move to beef up viewership–the VMA’s were shown on all of MTV’s ‘sister networks’. The bleeding continued in 2016 with the audience dropping to 3.3 million on MTV and to 6.5 million across platforms. In 2017, they lost nearly a million more viewers across all platforms dropping to 5.68 million viewers. The decision to air live against the Game of Thrones finale is either a completely boneheaded scheduling move or a tactical decision made to provide a ready made excuse for a poor viewership number. The freefall continued in 2018 which set a new record low, surpassing the previous record low set in…2017.
Monday’s show drew 2.25 million viewers and a 1.1 rating among adults 18-49. Across eight Viacom-owned channels, it drew 4.87 million viewers and a 2.2 in the demo; both sets of numbers fall short of the 2017 VMAs, which set the previous low.
They didn’t have the excuse of competing with the Game of Thrones finale last year as they did in 2017. Even more problematic than the declining ratings is the erosion of MTV’s core audience:
The 2017 awards also aired opposite a huge Game of Thrones finale on HBO; the heaviest head-to-head competition on cable Monday was WWE Monday Night Raw on USA (1.1 in 18-49, 3.1 million viewers) and an NFL preseason game on ESPN (0.8, 2.66 million).
The VMAs suffered even steeper declines among MTV’s core viewership of teens and young adults. In the 18-34 demo, the show’s 1.2 rating fell by almost half — 47 percent, to be precise — from 2.2 a year ago. It declined by similar percentages in the 12-34 cohort.
When publications not known for their cutting edge musical tastes such as the Washington Post are doing articles entitled “MTV’s Video Music Awards are around the corner. But will anyone care?” it’s evident that 2019 could be another new ratings low for the show.
2019’s awards show drew 1.9 million viewers and for the first time pulled a rating less than 1.0 (0.9). This represents a drop of 14% in viewers and 18% in the key 18-49 demographic. The only thing that approximates a ‘silver lining’ to this dark cloud is that the drop in viewership was less than in the previous two years in which total viewership fell by 18% the 18-49 demographic fell by 20% in each year. MTV’s ‘glass half full’ interpretation is that they’ve finally ‘cracked the code’ of what their younger viewership wants which is demonstrated in increased social and video engagement.
WHAT TO EXPECT THIS YEAR
The 2020 Video Music Awards will be held at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, presumably without a live audience in attendance as originally announced. The venue announcement by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo expressed some pride over this being the first event held at the home of the Brooklyn Nets since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. For that reason, you can expect a lot of self congratulatory glad handing about how ‘tough’ New York is and all of that. It sounds like producers are trying to further enforce social distancing since they’re going to spread the live performances over all five boroughs though MTV put a ‘self congratulatory glad handing’ spin on it:
For the 2020 show, the VMAs are going wide, featuring performances from various iconic locations throughout Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, The Bronx, and Staten Island, to honor the spirit and resilience of New York.
A statement from MTV reaffirmed their commitment to social distancing and prioritizing health and safety:
“Show producers alongside Barclays Center management have been working closely with state and local officials to implement best practices for everyone involved. Among the measures all parties involved have aligned on include extensive social distancing procedures, meaningful capacity limitations and the virtualization of components where possible.”
Another big storyline–Korean boy band (aka ‘K-Pop’) sensations BTS will be performing live at the 2020 VMA’s–a profound change from 2019 when MTV did everything they could to snub the insanely popular band. Lest you think that they’re *really* going to push BTS and K-Pop instead of carrying water for the legacy mainstream recording industry guess again:
Though there was some hope from fans of artists like BTS, Blackpink and Bad Bunny that this could finally be the year that a foreign-language video was nominated for video of the year, it was not to be for 2020, where all six VOTY nominees are again English-language. However, K-pop and Latin were both recognized this year outside of the categories specifically created for them (introduced in 2018 and 2019, respectively), which return once again in 2020. BTS’ “On” is nominated for best pop — the group’s first time being recognized in the category — while Karol G is up for best collaboration for “Tusa,” along with co-star Nicki Minaj.
We learned in the classic film This Is Spinal Tap that there is a ‘fine line between stupid and clever’. Which brings us to the two new categories both working the COVID-19 pandemic angle:
The art of the music video has certainly been altered this year by the COVID-19 crisis, whose necessitated social distancing resulted in an influx of both live performances and music videos being shot from their respective artists’ homes. The shift is being recognized at this year’s VMAs with two brand new categories: best music video from home and best quarantine performance. (We can only hope that both of these categories seem wildly out of date by the time of the 2021 nominations.)
Here’s the official SPORTSINSIDER.COM betting odds for the 2020 MTV Video Music Awards:
MTV VIDEO MUSIC AWARDS 2020 BETTING ODDS
VIDEO OF THE YEAR
Rain on Me/Lady Gaga & Ariana Grande +150 Blinding Lights/The Weeknd +300 The Man/Taylor Swift +450 Everything I Wanted/Billie Eilish +450 Life Is Good/Future feat. Drake +700 Godzilla/Eminem feat. Juice WRLD +700
ARTIST OF THE YEAR
The Weeknd +200 Lady Gaga +235 Post Malone +350 Justin Bieber +600 Megan Thee Stallion +600 DaBaby +750
BEST NEW ARTIST
Doja Cat +135 Roddy Ricch +300 Jack Harlow +500 Lewis Capaldi +500 Tate McRae +700 YUNGBLUD +700
SONG OF THE YEAR
Circles/Post Malone +200 Rain on Me/Lady Gaga & Ariana Grande +250 Savage/Megan Thee Stallion +450 Say So/Doja Cat +450 The Box/Roddy Ricch +600 Everything I Wanted/Billie Eilish +700
Rain on Me/Lady Gaga & Ariana Grande +150 Stuck with U/Ariana Grande and Justin Bieber +300 Life Is Good/Future feat. Drake +450 Beautiful People/Ed Sheeran feat. Khalid +450 Tusa/Karol G feat. Nicki Minaj +700 RITMO/Black Eyed Peas feat. J Balvin +700
On/BTS +200 Rain on Me/Lady Gaga & Ariana Grande +250 Lover/Taylor Swift +350 You Should Be Sad/Halsey +600 Intentions/Justin Bieber feat. Quavo +600 Whats A Man Gotta Do/Jonas Brothers +700
BEST HIP HOP
The Box/Roddy Ricch +125 Savage/Megan Thee Stallion +300 Godzilla/Eminem feat. Juice WRLD +450 Life Is Good/Future feat. Drake +700 Highest In The Room/Travis Scott +700 Bop/Da Baby +700
Blinding Lights/The Weeknd +125 Do It/Chloe x Halle +350 Underdog/Alicia Keys +350 Cuz I Love You/Lizzo +500 Slide/H.E.R. feat. YG +900 Eleven/Khalid feat. Summer Walker +900
On/BTS -750 Any Other Video +600
Tusa/Karol G feat. Nicki Minaj +100 Yo Perreo Sola/Bad Bunny +300 China/Anuel AA feat. Daddy Yankee, et.al. +450 Que Pena/Maluma feat. J Balvin +750 Amarillo/J Balvin +750 MAMACITA/Black Eyed Peas feat. Ozuna and J. Rey Soul +1000
Happier/Marshmello and Bastille +225
Taka Taka/DJ Snake et. al. +350
Solo/Clean Bandin feat. Demi Lovato +350
Call You Mine/The Chainsmokers feat. Bebe Rexha +500
Electricity/Silk City and Dua Lipa +500
Could've Been/H.E.R feat. Bryson Tiller +500
Orphans/Coldplay +150 Caution/The Killers +225 Wasted On You/Evanescence +450 Oh Yeah!/Green Day +700 Happy Days/Blink 182 +700 Dear Future Self.../Fall Out Boy +900
Let's Fall In Love For The Night/Finneas +150 Doin' Time/Lana Del Rey +300 Level of Concern/Twenty One Pilots +300 If You're Too Shy Let Me Know/The 1975 +600 Bloody Valentine/Machine Gun Kelly +750 Some Kind Of Disaster/All Time Low +900
BEST MUSIC VIDEO FROM HOME
Stuck With U/Ariana Grande and Justin Bieber -135 Toosie Slide/Drake +350 Happy Days/Blink 182 +500 Level of Concern/Twenty One Pilots +750 Wildflower/5 Seconds of Summer +750 Bigger Love/John Legend +1500
BEST QUARANTINE PERFORMANCE
Smile, from One World: Together At Home/Lady Gaga -155 Do It, from MTV’s Prom-athon/Chloe x Halle +300 Nirvana Tribute/Post Malone +700 #togetherathome Concert Series/John Legend +700 Unplugged At Home/CNCO +1250 Club MTV presents #DanceTogether/DJ D-Nice +1250
VIDEO FOR GOOD
The Man/Taylor Swift -150 I Can't Breathe/H.E.R +350 The Bigger Picture/Lil Baby +700 I Love Me/Demi Lovato +700 All the Good Girls Go to Hell/Billie Elish +1000 Lockdown/Anderson Paak +1000
2020 VMA MTV NETWORK VIEWERSHIP
Over 1.85 Million +180 Under 1.85 Million -210
2020 VMA MTV NETWORK KEY DEMO RATING
Over 1.01 +150 Under 1.01 -180
WILL THE 2020 VMA MTV NETWORK VIEWERSHIP REACH A NEW RECORD LOW?
Yes -350 No +300
The previous three TV ratings propositions will be graded using data reported by The Hollywood Reporter. Ratings and viewership totals based only on MTV viewership and does not include any other ViacomCBS owned networks that air the 2020 VMAs live.