2017 VMA Viewership Plummets

Camille Lagunera, Entertainment Editor

Viewers plummeted by the millions for the 2017 Video Music Awards, or VMAs, last Sunday, August 27th.  Although it had an astounding viewership in 2002, the popularity of the musical feature has diminished over the years.  Unlike this year’s premiere, which was viewable on 10 networks, in 2002, the VMAs were only viewable on one network– MTV.  In the last two years, spectators of the VMAs have dwindled; decreasing from 9.8 million people in 2015 to last weekend’s audience of 5.68, the lowest in VMA history.


The premiere of the Game of Thrones finale may have contributed to the drastic decrease in watchers, as it was on at the same time as the VMAs.   However, the musical feature had an increase of viewers between the ages 12-24 this year.  This may be due to MTV’s role in social media, which creates buzz and allows watchers (predominantly adolescents) to keep up with the show on different social media platforms, such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.  An anonymous source says, “I was working, but I checked up through Twitter.”     

The ability to stream the show online may also be accountable for the drop of television viewers.  In a survey group of 50 students at Woodside High School, only 14 watched the VMAs.  In the survey, some had no knowledge of the Video Music Awards.  The lack of knowledge of the VMAs occurred more in upperclassmen.  Additionally, some students only watched select performances and parts.  Of the ones watched, Logic, Kendrick Lamar, Miley Cyrus and Alessia Cara’s performances were the most popular among the group.  Angela Galdamez, a senior at Woodside, comments that, “Logic’s performance was amazing and made me cry.”  


Despite the 50% increase in the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (a result of Logic’s performance of “1-800-273-8255” in conjunction with Kesha’s speech on suicide prevention), it does not measure up to the amount of controversy caused by previous shows.  Multiple students mentioned the infamous 2014 VMAs, which had 4.62 more watchers than 2017.  Sierra Doran, a freshman at Woodside, says, “The 2014 one with Miley Cyrus…She danced with Robin Thicke– that was pretty exciting.  Blurred Lines, you know?”  In addition, the cause célèbre was also noted by Beth Casey, another freshman at Woodside, who stated that she “only watched that part.  Not the whole show.”


Perhaps watchers, consumers of the show, are seeking more drama on the stage, rather than just the musical talent that is presented.  As Linnea Holm, a senior at Woodside, claims, “The VMAs are just a platform for celebrities to spread drama amongst themselves (and thus gain publicity) or dramatically reconstruct their reputation. The last time I knew people who cared about them was middle school.”