This year's VMAs at New York's Madison Square Garden were broadcast simultaneously across 11 Viacom properties –including VH1, BET, Comedy Central, CMT and Spike – and although the event promised the presence of Beyoncé, four minutes of unscripted Kanye West, an entire Rihanna showcase and the grand VMAs return of Britney Spears, ratings still plummeted for the fourth consecutive year.
Despite the drop in television audience, MTV revealed that the decrease was offset in part by a massive surge in online streams, with the network claiming that the VMAs drew 45.8 million streams on Facebook; in 2015, that figure was 4.4 million. Similarly, MTV announced 62.8 million streams in total occurred Sunday, an increase of 70 percent over the 2015 ceremony. However, as the New York Times notes, television ratings are still the most important factor to advertisers.
The VMAs joined other high-profile events – like the Summer Olympics, the Academy Awards, the Emmys and the Grammys, which fell to a seven-year low audience – to witness a significant drop in viewership this year.