It’s hard to tell, exactly what's dead, but something stinks.
A) Is it MTV? B) Is it music video? C) The VMA Awards? D) Or is it television itself?
Hard to know for sure. All are worthy candidates for some professional sniffing. Sunday’s VMA Awards on MTV (and 10 other channels owned by Viacom!) had all the Nielsen firepower of a terrific singer who is not grabbing his crotch. Ho-hum.
To sum it up, Vulture’s Jordan Crucchiola wrote:
“Last night’s telecast, which was aired concurrently across 11 Viacom-owned networks, included four performances from Rihanna throughout the evening, an extended medley of Beyoncé performing her blockbuster album “Lemonade”, four minutes of totally unregulated Kanye West, and the VMA return of Britney Spears. But despite all that A-list gold, the show still pulled just 6.5 million viewers. That’s down 34% from last year. At this point, the network will have to promise a cage match between Taylor Swift and Kim Kardashian to reverse the TV-ratings slump, but it’s not all bad news... ”
The ratings might be spectacular evolutionary proof of the shape of the media world in general. Clearer than anything I’ve seen so far, including the drop off in Olympics viewing, the VMAs demonstrated the massive shift away from long-form live content on television to short-form content streamed online, particularly as viewed by millennials.
It’s not that live TV is losing its appeal. It’s that long, live TV is. The winner is the portable and catch-a-glimpse sensibility of streaming.
As opposed to sinking Nielsen TV ratings, the VMAs drew 62.8 million stream starts online Sunday. That’s a stunning 70% increase over a year ago. And it attracted 45.8 million streams on Facebook, which is a 938% increase over the 4.4 million last year (when Facebook Live was a very new thing).
The VMAs is the awards show made for millennials and younger. Those viewers continue to leave in droves, preferring to watch just snippets of the show online and on smartphones-- just enough to catch the good parts. “While it’s fun to be on Twitter during award shows, typically there are really one to two things that really end up being talking points after the show, and those typically happen in short spans,” wrote Harry Lyles Jr. for theComeback.com explaining the time-suck of it all.
Young viewers are walking away from TV on their thumbs, avoiding even something as vulgarly marketable as the room full of half-naked half-singers on this bleep-thon.
This has ramifications. On Thursday, Sept. 15, Twitter twitcasts (I guess) the first of 10 Thursday night NFL games on the social media outlet this season. I bet it will perform incredibly well.
The thing is, the NFL is especially like the the VMA Awards show. The games are a lot of nothing, punctuated by a few nice performances, possibly some jaw-dropping gaffes, occasional life-isn’t-fair conclusions amid illusions that what’s happening is deeply meaningful.
A wonderful pie chart from Sportsgrid.com divvied up “action” from an NFL game and discerned 11 minutes of actual football, 67 minutes of “shots of players standing around” and 63 minutes of commercials.
Avoiding that is precisely why streaming should be so appealing, the more consumers know the option exists — and the more content creators recognize that’s where their most coveted viewers are headed. It will be never that streaming replaces TV, but the VMAs ratings are an unequivocal sign the times have changed firstname.lastname@example.org