The 2014 MTV Video Music Awards snagged 8.3 million viewers in first telecast on MTV on Sunday night — down from last year’s 10.1 million but nonetheless qualifying it as the summer’s most-watched cable telecast. Factoring in all the simulcasts on MTV, MTV2, VH1 and Logo TV, the debut clocked 10.3 million total viewers. Across all airings that evening, viewing levels hit 13.7 million. MTV’s audience, which is increasingly viewing content across all platforms, has produced more than 7 million streams since MTV posted the full show online Monday morning.
Once again Miley Cyrus stole the show — this time without appearing onstage — upstaging even Nicki Minaj, though Minaj had had one of the more interesting wardrobe malfunctions in TV history, and Iggy Azalea, who sang “Black Widow” in a spider web. As the award for Video of the Year was presented to Cyrus for “Wrecking Ball,” she pulled a modified Marlon Brando, sending a young homeless guy named Jesse onstage to accept the award on her behalf/raise awareness for the plight of homeless people in MTV’s demo/direct viewers to Miley’s Facebook page to make donations — while a camera was trained on Miley in the audience, weeping.
“I am accepting this award on behalf of the 1.6 million runaways and homeless youth in the United States who are starving and lost and scared for their lives. I know, because I am one of those people,” Jesse told the VMA crowd, then shamed the music industry with the line: “The music industry will make over $7 billion this year, and outside these doors are 54,000 human beings who have no place to call home.” Of course, Miley could write a check and go a long way to fixing that, but that’s beside the point, right?
(Marlon Brando, BTW, winning the Academy Award for best actor for his performance in The Godfather in 1973, sent Sacheen Littlefeather onstage — but she refused the Oscar on Brando’s behalf, unlike Miley, who took hers. Littlefeather explained that Brando “has asked me to tell you…that he regretfully cannot accept this very generous award, and reasons for this being the treatment of American Indians today by the film industry…and on television in movie reruns” as some in the Oscar audience began to boo, while others applauded.)
The VMAs also are the most social event of the summer across television with over 12.6 million tweets, according to Nielsen Social. The annual orgy of excess generated a whopping 259 trending topics. Across Vine, Tumblr, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, the show saw nearly 63 million social interactions Sunday night. The VMA All Access Live Stream delivered 6.5 million streams clocking in as the second-most-watched MTV digital live stream of all time. On the mobile front, the MTV app saw its largest day of visitors and installs to date.
Last year, an estimated 10.1 million people — 4.6 million of them aged 12-34 — watched the public sexual blossoming of Cyrus, the non-performing of Daft Punk, the bat-of-an-eye reunion of ‘N Sync, and the Taylor Swift-to-ex STFU-ing that was the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards. That had been a big step up from the previous year’s overall audience of 6.1 million, but still far short of the 12.4 million who tuned in in 2011 — or the runner-up 11.95 million crowd of 2002. The 4.6 million in the age bracket made it the No. 1-rated cable entertainment telecast of 2013 at that point in that key MTV demo. According to Twitter, Cyrus was quite a hit when, dressed in a Disney-kid-star-image-shedding nude bikini, she twerked Robin Thicke, who was dressed up as an NFL referee on a night out, while they sang “Blurred Lines.” Miley set a new Twitter record — 306K tweets per minute — surpassing the previous record holder, Beyonce’s Super Bowl performance.