CMT Artists of the Year Clocks Record Ratings With Moving Disaster Tribute

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

NASHVILLE, TN – OCTOBER 18: (L-R) Honorees Chris Stapleton, Brian Kelley of Florida Georgia Line, Tyler Hubbard of Florida Georgia Line, Jason Aldean, Keith Urban and Luke Bryan speak onstage at the 2017 CMT Artists Of The Year on October 18, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for CMT)

In a powerful display of unity and emotion honoring the victims of manmade and natural disasters across the United States, CMT’s Artists of the Year event aired to record ratings on Wednesday night, skyrocketing 61 percentage points over 2016 numbers while drawing more than 1.1 million fans. The program also ranked as the most social entertainment program in primetime on cable, while #CMTAOTY trended nationally on Twitter.

CMT recast the event – typically a celebration of the year’s premiere country artists – into a “night of hope and healing” following a savage mass shooting that killed 58 people attending the Route 91 Harvest country music festival earlier this month, as well as a trio of hurricanes and a plague of wildfires that have disrupted life throughout much of the nation.

“We felt a commitment to our fans to transform the event into a night where we honor human resilience through music, and hopefully in the process lift the spirits of our fans,” said CMT General Manager Frank Tanki. “We’re thrilled that the special connected with so many people, especially those who’ve been impacted by the recent tragedies.”

The show’s ratings success hits as CMT is riding a 10-month ratings streak, with sustained year-over-year growth over that period among key demographics.

Here are a few highlights from the show, which aired from Nashville’s Schermerhorn Symphony Center.

Artists of the Year deliver message of unity and resilience

When the gunfire erupted over the Las Vegas Strip on Oct. 1, country music star Jason Aldean onstage. His audience was the killer’s target. As Aldean rushed to cover, 58 people were killed and hundreds more injured in the unending barrage of bullets.

To open the show on Wednesday night, Aldean appeared alongside the other Artists of the Year: Chris Stapleton, Florida Georgia Line, Keith Urban and Luke Bryan. The performers – whom the network had selected in September, prior to the format change – had all agreed to forego formal awards and focus on victims of the recent tragedies. They opened with a message acknowledging the power and importance of music, the resilience of the human spirit, and the strength and courage of first responders and fans:

The show resonated especially powerfully in Las Vegas, where ratings increased an astronomical 1,877 percentage points over last year.

Country stars deliver a powerful genre crossover with a tribute to Tom Petty

CMT has a bold tradition of fusing artists (pop legends The Backstreet Boys performed country sensation Florida Georgia Line’s H.O.L.Y. during the show), and one of the night’s most uplifting moments came on just such a crossover. Aldean, Urban, Stapleton and country mainstays Little Big Town united on stage for a tribute to the late Tom Petty, belting out a stirring ensemble cover of the rocker’s I Won’t Back Down.

One of Petty’s most famous songs, the defiant anthem served as an appropriate tribute to the music legend while doubling as an apt rebuke to the fear and retreat that killers like the Las Vegas mass murderer hope to inspire:

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Highest Ratings and Most Viewers in Show History as Younger Grows Older

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Warning: spoilers ahead for TV Land’s Younger.

Season four of Younger lifted off where season three stopped: Liza strafing Kelsey with the news that they are not fellow Snapchatting millennial strivers after all, on account of L being 40-plus with a kid in college and a divorced ex-husband rambling about somewhere in suburban New Jersey.

So Kelsey storms off. And Charles’ estranged wife emerges from exile with a tell-all book about their marriage even as he and Liza seem to be toeing toward some sort of inevitable for-real romance. And Josh – seemingly recovered from busting up Liza and Charles’ proposal-ruining makeout session at the end of last season – summons L to Ireland,  where he intends to marry his girlfriend of one month, whom Liza had introduced him to.

And viewers loved it. More viewers than ever before, actually: Younger’s fourth season was the highest-rated and most-watched in series history, with double-digit percentage increases versus season three among key demos. Even more impressive, the show was the number one original ad-supported cable sitcom so far this year with women 18-49 and women 25-54. Fans pushed #YoungerTV to trend on Twitter all 12 weeks that new episodes aired.

Cheers to that, team.

via GIPHY

All those fans will be pleased that TV Land has already committed to season five. And with season four ending with a cliffhanger of a missed call to Liza from Charles, some speculate that their romance may finally start blossoming. Show creator Darren Star hinted at as much in an interview with Hollywood Reporter’s Jackie Strause.

“There is a lot of story to tell there,” he said. “As writers, we’re invested in Liza and Charles’ story but at the same time, it’s not an open and honest relationship yet. There’s a lot at stake for Liza being truthful with Charles.”

The Younger crew visited Ireland for the season four finale.

A confession from Liza to Charles would, of course, crack open the central premise of the show, as her real age would be apparent to all of the main characters. But Star doesn’t think the show’s longevity is tied to Liza perpetually keeping her secret.

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The Daily Show with Trevor Noah Records Most Watched Week Ever

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Like a farmer welcoming rainclouds, Trevor Noah has turned something most of us would prefer to do without – the unending tumult pouring from Washington, D.C. – into a building block for something essential: humor.

It is a resource that appears to be especially welcome at this moment of astonishing political turmoil. Last week was The Daily Show with Trevor Noah’s most watched ever, with 1.045 million total viewers, a 36 percent increase over the same week last year. The achievement nudges the program closer to recording eight consecutive months of year-over-year growth among total viewers.

Noah may have had a little help driving ratings. “Noah’s ratings run this week is most likely due in no small part to the problems plaguing Trump,” wrote Variety’s Joe Otterson, referring to the president’s dismissal of the FBI director, ongoing investigations into Russian influence in the presidential election, and other issues.

Indeed, as the pace of news has accelerated under the new administration, The Daily Show has adapted. “Things have definitely sped up,” head writer Zhubin Parang told Vulture’s Jen Chaney in February. “We used to be able to predict what the show would be the afternoon before the day, and now we just can’t ever assume that the show we have planned at 7 p.m. the night before is going to be anything like the show that’s ultimately going to air the next day.”

What Noah and team do ultimately air is unfailingly an incisive examination of the day’s headlines. When news broke early last week, for example, that President Trump disclosed classified information to high-ranking Russian officials on a White House visit, Noah was ready:

“This sounds like a story that we would invent, right?” an astonished Noah asked his audience. “Trump invites the Russians into the Oval Office, and then, in his meeting, starts bragging, ‘I get great intel. I have people brief me on great intel every day.’” Watch the full take below:

The day after that, the Justice Department appointed a special counsel – former FBI chief Robert Mueller – to investigate allegations that Trump campaign aides had colluded with Russia to influence last fall’s presidential election.

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See What Drove Viacom’s Q2 2017 Business Results – and What’s Coming Next

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Viacom reported its Q2 2017 earnings this morning behind strong performances across our portfolio. Click through the slideshow below to see what drove our business this quarter, and to get a preview of what we’re excited about coming up. Click over to Viacom Investor Relations for more details about this quarter’s earnings.

Trevor Noah Locks In Highest-Rated and Most-Watched Month Ever in February

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

On the strength of fearless political commentary and a globally resonant perspective, The Daily Show with Trevor Noah hammered through February with record ratings, wrapping his most-watched and highest-rated month with 1.5 million viewers. International ratings shot up 22 percent.

Great news, right Trevor?

via GIPHY

Even in a crowded late-night talk show space brimming with talent, Noah continues to stand out, recording the only current monthly or quarterly year-over-year ratings increase in both total viewers and in the 18-49 demographic among daily late-night talk shows:

Daily Show Ratings Success February 2017

Noah’s ratings have climbed as he offers smart, incisive commentary on a bruising political landscape of fake news and alternative facts, of accusations of mass voter fraud and U.S. immigration bans. His analysis of President Donald Trump’s first week in office has been viewed nearly 5 million times on YouTube alone:

That ratings have increased even as the news cycle accelerates under the Trump Administration is a reflection of The Daily Show staff’s creative tenacity. “Things have definitely sped up,” Daily Show head writer Zhubin Parang told Slate’s Jen Chaney recently. “We used to be able to predict what the show would be the afternoon before the day, and now we just can’t ever assume that the show we have planned at 7 p.m. the night before is going to be anything like the show that’s ultimately going to air the next day.”

While Noah’s commentary frequently critiques Republican policies and actions, part of the show’s appeal is his willingness to engage guests from across the political spectrum. His December conversation with conservative television and online video host Tomi Lahren about Black Lives Matter, the meaning of the American flag, and race relations is the show’s most-watched on YouTube:

Bold conversations like these have helped propel the show’s digital and social engagement as well, with a 42 percent bump in digital views over February 2016 and more than 6 million social actions (likes, shares, comments, reactions, retweets), a best among the daily late night shows.

 

You can join the social conversation by following The Daily Show on TwitterInstagram, and Snapchat, and by liking the show’s Facebook page.

As Noah continues on pace toward his best ratings quarter ever, Comedy Central has announced a new edition to its late-night lineup: American and Australian comedian Jim Jefferies will join the network for a weekly show starting this summer. Here’s a little taste of Jefferies’ acerbic style from a Netflix special he released last year:

“Faithfully Recreated” New Edition Story Delivers Authenticity and Torrid Ratings to BET

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

New Edition exploded out of anonymity from the Orchard Park Projects in Roxbury, Massachusetts in the early 1980s, selling millions of albums as the stamped the template for the boy band super-groups of the ‘90s and beyond. At one time, they were bigger than Beat It, when their 1983 debut track Candy Girl beat out one of Michael Jackson’s signature hits for the top spot on the Billboard chart. In the meteoric and fraught years that followed, they would break up and reunite while spawning the solo careers of Bobby Brown, Ralph Tresvant and Johnny Gill, along with the quadruple platinum collaboration of Bell Biv DeVoe.

When this foundational tale debuted over three nights last week on BET as The New Edition Story, it instantly became the network’s most-watched premiere since The Game dropped in 2012. The show went on to average more than 4 million viewers per episode across BET and sister network Centric while dominating the social media conversation for three consecutive nights.

The tale resonated in part due to its raw, unfiltered nature, delivering the uncensored drama of the exhilarating climb to success, the infighting that led to break-ups and reunions, the wild back-stage mingling amid groupies and substances, and the financial collapses that defied their spotlight. This scene depicting the group members’ mothers’ rage at receiving a check for $1.87 after a sprawling and highly successful tour is typical:

“Normally biopics are padded with dramatic falsehoods for entertainment,” wrote Billboard’s Niki McGloster, “but as the executive producers of the film, New Edition kept the story true to how they lived it.”

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