Ratings and Viewership Jump Double-Digits for MTV Movie & TV Awards

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Ratings and viewership soared for this year’s MTV Movie & TV Awards, as the network strategically shifted the air date to a June Monday and commissioned the red-hot Tiffany Haddish as host.

Across 10 Viacom-owned networks, 3.371 million viewers (a 21 percent increase over 2017), watched as Millie Bobby Brown pushed back at bullies and Haddish spoofed the year’s top films and TV shows. Viewers in key demographics drove the ratings increase, with the 18-34 group surging from a 1.85 rating last year to 2.24 this year –  a 21 percent jump – and those 18-49 pushing from a 1.63 to 2.04 share, an increase of 25 percent. Looking solely at MTV and VH1, the numbers grew even more explosively, with a 30 percent jump among viewers 18-34 and a 35 percent rise in the 18-49 demo.

The buzz carried over to social, where the MTV Movie & TV Awards beat the World Cup for most social show on television (per Nielsen), nearly doubling last year’s total and setting show records with more than 83 million streams (and counting). #MTVAwards trended No. 1 in the U.S. and globally over the course of the two-hour telecast.

In order to maximize the show’s potential audience, MTV made a few calculated decisions when choosing its airdate. First, they moved the awards from their traditional Sunday broadcast to Monday, when MTV and VH1 tend to draw strong viewership.

Second, MTV pushed the show down the calendar from May to June, slotting it in the midst of the June pre-nomination Emmy-voting window. This strategic positioning may have encouraged star turnout – Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Chris Pratt, as well as cast members of Riverdale, Keeping Up with the Kardashians and Stranger Things all accepted their Golden Popcorn buckets onstage at Santa Monica’s Barker Hangar. This star power, in turn, could have drawn fans.

“The date change was a draw for networks and streaming platforms, and talent looking for opportunities to get their content out there during this key window,” MTV, VH1 and Logo General Manager Amy Doyle told Indiewire’s Michael Schneider before the awards aired. “And you’ll see that in full effect when watching the show.”

But the crisply edited, entertaining show drew a lot of attention on its own merits.

“After sitting through countless bloated awards shows indulging themselves for three or four hours at a time, the 2018 MTV Movie & TV Awards were a genuine relief — and in a delightful twist, even genuinely heartwarming,” wrote Variety’s Caroline Framke. “Airing Monday night after taping Saturday, the edited ceremony ran just two hours long but managed to squeeze in 15 awards, two musical performances, and several pre-taped sketches featuring host Tiffany Haddish. … By the night’s end, it was hard to understand why other awards show don’t follow suit more often.”

“… it was the best version of this show I’ve ever watched,” added Entertainment Weekly’s Darren Franich.

In a show dominated by wins for Black Panther (Best Movie) and Stranger Things (Best Show), there were plenty of the sort of culturally resonant moments that MTV’s awards shows are famous for. Black Panther’s Chadwick Boseman dedicated his Best Hero honor to 29-year-old James Shaw Jr., who boldly disarmed a gun-wielding active shooter at a Tennessee Waffle House in April. Michael B. Jordan, who also starred in Black Panther, chastised Roseanne Barr, saying that he thought she was more deserving of his Best Villain Award. Lena Waithe, a black, lesbian writer who received the Trailblazer Award, and Keiynan Lonsdale, who received Best Kiss for his same-sex kiss with Nick Robinson in Love, Simon, both delivered inspirational messages calling for universal equality.

The standout numbers for the Movie & TV Awards land during a broader resurgence for MTV, which has consistently driven ratings higher behind a pivot to unscripted television under network president Chris McCarthy. The net, which is the fastest-growing top-50 cable network in primetime over the past year, is on pace for its fourth consecutive quarter of primetime growth for the first time in seven years.*

View clips and photos here.

*Source: Nielsen; P18-34, L3 data unless otherwise noted.  Prime Mon-Sun,8p-11p.  Competitive ranks based on 000s.  MTV ratings/increases based on cvg rtgs. FY18 thru 5/27/18

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