2017 VMAs Fail To Turn Heads On Social Media

INGLEWOOD, CA – AUGUST 27: Host Katy Perry flies in onstage during the 2017 MTV Video Music Awards at The Forum on August 27, 2017 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

You may have heard that MTV’s Video Music Awards took a bit of a dip in TV viewership this year ― down from last year’s 6.5 million linear viewers to around 5.8 million. You might have also heard that the Game of Thrones season 7 finale managed to pull in a viewership more than twice that size.

If you’ve been keeping an eye on the steady decline of VMAs viewership year after year, this probably isn’t all that surprising. Just two years ago, the show saw around 9.8 million viewers, according to Nielsen. The network is well aware of this, too, and instead of getting too caught up in the show’s live TV ratings, they’ve switched their focus to its impact on social media.

But here’s the problem: The VMAs’ social audience doesn’t seem to be growing, either.

The 2017 VMAs, which aired live from The Forum in Los Angeles this Sunday, failed to generate nearly as much social conversation as shows in previous years. Why? Perhaps the biggest reason was its giant, fire-breathing competitor. According to Nielsen Social, Game of Thronesdrove more interactions on Facebook and Twitter than the VMAs, with the HBO show driving around 4.1 million interactions and the VMAs seeing around 3.9 million.

That means that the average VMAs viewer talked about the show more than the average Game of Thrones viewer, but 3.9 million is a very low number for the VMAs ― considering last year’s broadcast drove over 13 million interactions on Facebook and Twitter, according to Nielsen. (For those keeping score, that’s a decrease of over 70%.) Even last year’s show was nothing compared to 2015, when the show broke Twitter records to become the most-tweeted event in the U.S., apart from the Super Bowl.

In addition to the fierce competition, the VMAs’ failure to launch this year could have a lot to do with the fact that, frankly, not many people showed up. Beyoncé wasn’t there. Rihanna wasn’t there. Kanye wasn’t there. Even Taylor Swift, who was debuting her new music video for “Look What You Made Me Do,” was nowhere to be found. And these are some of the most headline-grabbing celebrities around.

The most tweeted-about artists throughout the night were Fifth Harmony, Taylor Swift ― who, once again, wasn’t even there ― and Shawn Mendes. What’s notable about Fifth Harmony and Shawn Mendes’ performances is that they were two of the least politically charged performances of the night. In light of recent events, this year’s show certainly could have been far more political, but when you consider that the VMAs’ bread and butter is the absurd, it was relatively somber. The biggest surprise guests, for example, were a descendant of Robert E. Lee and a Susan Bro, the mother of the late Heather Heyer.

Logic, Khalid and Alessia Cara’s somber performance of “1-800-273-8255” was far from the most talked about performance. Rather, according to data provided by Twitter, that honor went to Jared Leto’s tribute to Chester Bennington. (Though most of that conversation was likely anger over the fact that MTV cut it off short and cut to a commercial.) Second was Shawn Mendes’ subdued performance of “There’s Nothin’ Holdin’ Me Back.”

In a piece in The Ringer, writer Justin Charity suggest that perhaps it isn’t the VMAs’ place to meddle in politics, and the data seems to back that up. Suggestion for next year’s show: Maybe add some dragons?

[“Source-forbes”]