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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MTV Rides Programming Resurgence to First Summer Ratings Increase in Six Years

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Fueled by a programming renaissance, MTV scored its first summer ratings increase in six years for the three months ending August 31.

That’s cause for celebration:

via GIPHY

The surge follows the steady re-introduction of several legacy MTV programs that have been recalibrated to appeal to the social-, mobile- and digital-oriented youth of today: My Super Sweet 16, Unplugged and, on Snapchat, Cribs and Beach House. And, coming soon: the hugely anticipated returns of early aughts mainstay TRL.

(Take a look at the Shawn Mendes performance that relit Unplugged – you’re not seeing things – there are no cell phones in the audience; the producers prohibited fans from bringing them into the theater, so they could simply enjoy the concert, 1990s style):

The ratings resurgence has not been entirely tethered to nostalgia, however, as a rejiggering of the network’s The Challenge and the launch of unscripted original Siesta Key (below) also fueled large audiences.

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Petals, Pizzazz and Politics—How the Season Finale of RuPaul’s Drag Race Sashayed to the Mainstream

A 29-year-old drag queen from Brooklyn, New York known as Sasha Velour is lip syncing to Whitney Houston’s So Emotional. She’s gliding across the stage; a graceful avant-garde, bald ballerina.

Arms clad in opera-length bronze gloves, Velour vogues alongside fellow queen Shea Couleé, sauntering her hips and moving her lips soundlessly. Then, she craned her neck and began tugging at her wig. Pantomiming a seizure, she grabbed each scarlet lock to unleash a cascade of rose petals—just as Houston’s ballad reached its dénouement.

Watch the performance:

It was the season 9 finale of VH1’s RuPaul’s Drag Race. Nearly 9 million people watched as Velour won the coveted title of America’s Next Drag Superstar, making Drag Race history for the most-watched finale. It was, in the eternal words of Whitney Houston, “So emotional.”

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How CMT Transformed Nashville Into Its Most Successful (And Progressive) Show

In 2015, Rolling Stone said ABC’s Nashville “reflects real-life struggles in the entertainment industry.”  This was in reference to the country soap’s gay characters, Will Lexington (Chris Carmack) and Kevin Bix (Kyle Dean Massey).

At the time, Bix was a new addition to the Nashville family, and as an openly gay singer, struggled to have a successful career. Lexington was hiding his sexual identity from his fans, while flourishing professionally.

Flash forward to 2017. Nashville moved to CMT for its fifth season earlier this year. Now, Lexington is out and proud, realizing he could still embrace his role as a country music star as an LGBT individual after being forced out of the closet in season three by a rival musician.

Since joining the CMT roster, Nashville has become the network’s highest-rated and most-watched series ever. Even after losing a beloved main character (Rayna James) in a tragic car crash, the show has remained wildly successful.

At least part of this success can be attributed to CMT’s inventive and progressive storyline and character development. Take Lexington’s evolution, for example. Entertainment blog Cinemablend commended CMT on “sprucing up” his character, giving him more than just romantic story arcs and LGBT-drama to fill his screen time.

Even the network’s portrayal of his sexuality has adopted more realistic angles. Even though Music City is full of heartbreak and drama, being a gay country singer doesn’t have to be riddled with conflict. In a recent episode that aired during Pride Month, Lexington got the opportunity to be a brand spokesperson for Budweiser.

Watch the fictional spot:

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The Daily Show Hosts Pop Up Art Exhibit to Honor the Commander in Tweet

Lines stretched for blocks in Midtown Manhattan near Trump Tower last weekend, but not for a protest. Instead, tourists and locals converged just down the road to see The Daily Show’s homage to the self-proclaimed “Ernest Hemingway of a hundred and forty characters,” the man known as @RealDonaldTrump.

The Daily Show Presents: The Donald J. Trump Presidential Twitter Library was a pop-up showcase with free admission.

“Say what you want about Donald Trump,” Noah told reporters as the exhibit opened. “He may not be good at presidenting, or leading, or geo-politics. But he is a damn fine tweet-er.”

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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.

Make America Fierce Again: What a Ratings Surge Tells Us About RuPaul’s Drag Race

After strutting from Logo to VH1, RuPaul’s Drag Race’s ninth season premiered Friday, March 24. Critics say it’s as fabulous as ever—with a fierce cast delivering a whole new level of charisma, nerve, and talent. Viewers agree. The season premiere drew nearly 1 million viewers, more than any other episode of Drag Race. It was the most-watched show on cable TV that night, besides the NCAA’s March Madness basketball tournament. The divas dominated Twitter, as well, trending worldwide and garnering the highest Twitter volume in Drag Race history.

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 07: (L-R) Eureka O'hara, Peppermint, Kimora Blac, Alexis Michelle; Trinity Taylor, Shea Coulee, Jaymes Mansfield, Nina Bo' Nina Brown, Aja, Valentina, Sasha Velour, Charlie Hides and Farrah Moan attend "RuPaul's Drag Race" Season 9 Premiere Party & Meet The Queens Event at PlayStation Theater on March 7, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Santiago Felipe/Getty Images)

The cast of RuPaul’s Drag Race attend Season 9 Premiere Party & Meet The Queens Event at PlayStation Theater on March 7, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Santiago Felipe/Getty Images)

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Fake Trump Dodges Real Media with Comedy Central Show of His Own

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Comedy Central is on a sizzling late-night run, as The Daily Show with Trevor Noah knocked out its highest-rated and most-watched quarter ever for the first quarter of 2017. It is the number one daily late-night talk show among millennials and the only one of that group to increase year-over-year ratings and viewership.

There has been so much winning that the network has attracted the self-proclaimed winningest winner of all to late night: U.S. President Donald J. Trump.

via GIPHY

Well, sort of. Renowned Trump impersonator Anthony Atamanuik will helm The President Show, a weekly production that purports to be broadcast direct from the Oval Office, where the faux commander in chief can circumvent the crooked media’s fake news factories for straight Trump talk.

How good is Atamanuik-as-Trump? Pretty flawless:

“Laughing at the President is a proud American tradition and we hope not to disappoint anyone in that department,” said Atamanuik. “But our political system is too broken for us to be content joking about one man, even though he is a disastrous silly little toddler boy. Mostly I’d just like to thank Comedy Central for giving us this platform to speak truth to power and if we’re lucky, end up in prison!”

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Nick’s Number One! (And Number 2, and Number 3, and Numbers 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10…)

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Behind a wide-ranging slate of live-action and animated shows, Nickelodeon swept ratings compilations of the top 10 children’s programs for the first quarter of 2017 among kids 2-11 and 6-11.

The accomplishment continues a torrid winning streak for Nickelodeon, which marks its third year as the top kids’ network among kids 2-11 and preschoolers. This is Nick’s seventh consecutive quarter winning those two demos, and its second in a row among kids 6-11. Ratings grew among all three demos during the quarter.

By locking in the top 10 children’s shows in two core demos, Nick pulled net double digits ahead of its competition. The net also owns four of the top five shows among kids 2-5: number one PAW Patrol; number two Shimmer and Shine; number four Team Umizoomi; and number five Blaze and the Monster Machines.

Underscoring Nick’s deep influence on kids’ culture, its annual Kids’ Choice Awards was the top-rated show for the week ending March 12 among kids 2-11, kids 6-11 and tweens 9-14.

Scroll down to see the 10 Nick shows that won the quarter in both the 2-11 and 6-11 demos:

Kids 2-11

#1 The Thundermans

#2 Nicky, Ricky, Dicky and Dawn

#3 SpongeBob SquarePants

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