A novel fan-engagement deal with Twitter helped send the American Music Awards screaming to the top of Nielsen’s Twitter TV charts this week, with a whopping 5.6 million tweets reaching nearly 10.3 million people. On the sports side of the ratings, the NFL returned to its usual chart hegemony after a down week, this time snaring eight of the top 10 spots.

The numbers may not be a record but they far exceeded anything else happening not only in the past week but in the past several months. The AMAs are pretty much custom-built for social-media success: unlike the Grammys, which are voted on by a fusty academy of industry insiders, hoards of fans choose the AMA winners (and the most full-throated of them noisily filled the upper reaches of the Nokia Theater last night with siren-like screams). As well, the AMAs‘ categories are very broad and very mainstream, eschewing all those million micro-slices of the industry that make Grammy broadcasts such a slog.

AMAs 2Predictably, the artists that did well this year play well with teen and pre-teen girls (typically huge social-media users), especially boy band One Direction, which won artist of the year and two other awards. The show also featured the kinds of big, twerk-y, dance-minded production numbers that also are likely to send fans a-tweeting.

Part of the intense engagement surely came from a deal Twitter did with the digital unit of Dick Clark Productions, who produced the show for ABC. Fans were invited to submit art they’d created of their favorite performers. The musicians, in turn, chose their favorites and shared those pieces on Twitter. Andrew Adashek, the head of Twitter’s TV unit, told me after the show that musicians particularly got into the project, seeing what kinds of art the fans had created. The results suggest it was social-media gold for DCP and ABC.

DCP and sponsor Samsung also did a deal with Snapchat, the evanescent mobile-messaging app, to have influencers shoot and share photos from the red carpet and in the show, all collected in a single AMA-themed Snapchat “Story,” which is a longer-lasting collection of images. (Disclosure: I took part.) That project would have done little for Twitter TV ratings, but would have connected the show and the brands behind it with all the music fans on Snapchat, now with more than 100 million monthly users.

AMAs 4As evidence of its online oomph, the AMAs weren’t the week’s only awards show to crack the Twitter TV top 10, just far and away the biggest. The Latin Grammys on Univision showed up at No.  6, with about one-fifth the audience reached, and just 3 percent as many tweets. The AMAs’ secret weapon might have been Pitbull, the Cuban-American rapper and social-media phenom, as its emcee again this year. Pitbull joked during the show that every time he spoke Spanish, the AMAs added another 6 million Latino viewers.

The rest of the top 10 for series and specials included all the usual suspects, though WWE pushed a pay-per-view show into the top 10 along with its usual Monday Night RAW deal. Scandalno doubt pumped with even more gotcha moments than usual, given the sweeps ratings period, was a solid No. 2.

The Twitter TV ratings measure the unduplicated audience of people on Twitter who see a post about a broadcast while it’s airing or in the three hours before and after that broadcast.

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In a normal week, the online conversation about the nail-biter between the NFL’s New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys, both with huge national followings, would have been enough to grab the week’s top spot among all shows. As it was, the game, where the teams traded touchdowns in the last two minutes before Dallas won, sparked 1.1 million tweets reaching 7.8 million people. For a regular season game with only minimal playoff implications, that’s big.

The only non-NFL exceptions were yet another college football game featuring undefeated (however narrowly) defending champion Florida State University, and an early-season NBA matchup. It didn’t hurt that the NBA matchup featured that league’s defending champion, San Antonio, against the current team of LeBron James, the league’s best player. James’ previous team, Miami, lost to the Spurs in last season’s finals. Swish.

Twitter-TV-Sports-20141124 As always, Nielsen throws in a variety of caveats with its slew of numbers. In this case:

Nielsen Social captures relevant Tweets from three hours before through three hours after broadcast, local time.  Unique Audience measures the audience of relevant Tweets ascribed to a program from when the Tweets are sent until the end of the broadcast day at 5am. Sports Events include those on Broadcast and National Cable Networks only across all day parts. For multicast events, networks are listed alphabetically and metrics reflect the highest Unique Audience across all airing networks.