Post Type:post 2015 MTV Video Music Awards | Viamedia

***Cable’s Iconic Event of the Year Attracts Huge Audience***

***Last year’s event propelled MTV to the third highest rated network***

*** Viewing particularly strong in large markets***

***Ethnic / racial diversification hallmark of VMA viewership***

***MTV Local cable ad dollars nearly triple on day of event led by Retail/Department Store Spending***


The Moon Man is about to touch down again.

That is, the Moon Man statue that’s inextricably linked to MTV’s annual extravaganza event: the Video Music Award (better known by its initials, VMA), which airs August 30th.

I won’t say the VMA is all about the statuary – after all, the awards ceremony was originally conceived over thirty years ago as the “alternative Grammy”, a much hipper version that honors the best in music videos. But the fact of the matter is that the Moon Man Award has reached iconic status and is recognized around the world in places you’ve never heard of. Indeed, the Moon Man served for many years as MTV’s network logo, and if you are of a certain age (which I certainly am), the Moon Man is also an evocation of the earliest days of cable.

Which is a long-winded way of saying that this event is “bigger than big”, and since 1984 has attracted a veritable “who’s who” of contemporary music from Rock, Soul, Blues, Rap, Country, Jazz… you name it.

Last year’s VMAs featured performances by Arianna Grande, Nicki Minaj, Jessie J and Taylor Swift which helped to lift the 31st edition of the VMAs to a 4.2 (Live) U.S. household rating – good for a 5.6 share of viewing. And, although the 2014 VMAs were off 10% versus 2013, notice the shares for the two respective years – practically the same. And that’s because overall TV usage on the night of the 2014 VMAs was significantly lower than 2013 (62.6% in 2014 vs. 73.4% in 2013 for the 9:00pm – 12:00mid time slot):


Play That Again

DVR recording and playback represent a significant level of VMA viewing. Of particular note is the fact that the 2014 VMAs, which pulled down a lower LIVE rating than the 2013 VMAs, ended up with a higher rating on the basis of Live + 15 days of DVR activity (i.e., 6.53 vs 6.40):


Large Market Appeal

Given the distinct pattern we found between market size and market rating, and our conclusion is that the VMA is a large market draw.

We first ranked the entire DMA list (200+ markets) from the largest market (New York / 7.46 Million HHs), to the smallest (Glendive, Montana / 4,260 HHs.) We then divided the markets into 5 equal groups (or quintiles) of 42 markets each. We then calculated the average HH universe estimate and average VMA HH rating for each quintile.

As can be seen in the chart below, the largest market group (i.e., Quintile 1) has an average universe of ~1.72 Million HHs per market, which generated – on average — a VMA HH rating of 4.9. The smallest market group (i.e., Quintile 5) has an average universe of only ~67,000 HHs per market. These small markets generated an average 2.0 HH rating – 58% lower than the largest markets:


The above quintile analysis, however, does not suggest that only large markets achieve high VMA ratings. That would be pushing the data further than it goes. In fact, there are several medium and smaller sized markets that perform quite well, such as Baton Rouge (6.4 rating); Springfield-Holyoke (6.2 rating) and Corpus Christi (6.1 rating). What these three markets have in common is fairly large concentrations of African Americans and/or Hispanic populations. Indeed, ethnic / racial diversification is a hallmark of VMA viewership and that applies more or less across the board from the largest to smallest DMAs. And as can be seen below, Hispanic and African-American household ratings far exceed the national average:


One last word about the VMA ratings.

We can parse them a dozen ways to Sunday, and we can make them look relatively large and/or relatively small (depending on the criteria.) But no data analysis of the VMAs should detract from one, very basic fact: this is a huge ratings performer! Last year’s 2014 VMAs propelled MTV to the third highest rated network in the 9-11pm time slot. That’s out of 230 broadcast and cable networks measured and reported by Rentrak!


Local Cable Ad Demand

One indication of the VMA’s drawing power can be seen in the chart below in which the MTV Network’s share of total Viamedia advertising more than doubled on the Sunday of the VMAs (which aired on August 24th, 2014):

Over the past two years, over 70 clients across a third of Viamedia’s market footprint ordered 300+ local cable spots. That comes to an average of 2 VMA spots per client per year. And in terms of the distribution of local cable ad categories, Retail & Department Stores is far and away the largest at 41% of total advertising. That is several times the mid-single digit share that the category accrues across all Viamedia (company-wide) advertising:


32 and Counting

Sunday, August 30th marks the 32nd annual Video Music Awards to be held at the Microsoft Theater (at L.A. Live) in Los Angeles, California. Miley Cyrus has been chosen as this year’s host, which should keep the proceedings low key and demure. (Or, maybe not.) Joining her will be a long line of well-known, contemporary artists, including Taylor Swift (with 9 nominations), hip hop artist Kendrick Lamar and English singer-songwriter (and musician), Ed Sheeran. Their presence, along with many others, will ensure that literally millions across the country will be glued to their TV sets as MTV airs one of cable’s most iconic television events of the year. 

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– Written by Jonathan Sims, VP Media Research, Viamedia