Even with Minaj and Rihanna, Video Music Awards can’t compete with Obama speech


Taylor Swift performs “We are Never Getting Back Together” during the 2012 MTV Video Music Awards in Los Angeles. (Mario Anzuoni/Reuters)
September 7, 2012

President Obama killed the VMAs.

Thursday night’s Video Music Awards averaged 6.1 million viewers — less than half of last year’s crowd of 12.4 million.

The show was supposed to be MTV’s biggest annual ratings-grabber: It promised performances by Kennedy-in-training Taylor Swift, likely-soon-to-be-“American Idol” judge Nicki Minaj and girl-squeal-inducing One Direction, not to mention Rihanna performing her “Cockiness” remix single.

Instead, the VMAs broadcast had its lousiest showing since 2006. That’s also the last time the trophy show started at 8 p.m. — though that year, it ran until nearly 11:30 p.m.

MTV announced in May that it would move the show from 9 p.m. — its start time for the past five years — to 8, so as to be wrapped by 10, when Obama was scheduled to deliver his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention.

After 2006’s crummy showing of 5.8 million viewers, Viacom-owned MTV de-bloated the orgy of excess and got it down to a two-hour-ish program.

At any rate, Thursday’s number is a stunning ratings plunge for the show, coming as it does one year after the franchise logged its biggest crowd ever — and MTV’s biggest audience ever for any program.

One year earlier, the VMAs averaged 11.4 million; the year before that, it was 9 million.

Let’s put this year’s VMA number in perspective, shall we?

The VMAs attracted a smaller crowd than that watching Obama at the DNC — on NBC (8.6 million) alone.

On the other hand, the show snagged more than twice as many viewers as watched Obama’s address on Fox News Channel (2.9 million).

To read previous columns by Lisa de Moraes, go to washingtonpost.com/tvblog.

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