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VMAs: Great Ratings And Sour Notes

9/14/2009 4:40 PM

As I mentioned in a previous blog, live awards show telecasts can provide a great ratings boost for a cable network, but can cause indigestion for network executives due to often controversial antics acted out on stage by performers.

Last night’s MTV Video Music Awards ceremony proved to be no exception.

The Awards show, which is known for its eye-opening performances, drew nearly 9 million viewers for MTV last night. The show’s audience was 6% above last year’s 8.4 million take and is the annual event’s best showing since 2004.

But the show, which began with a poignant tribute to the late Michael Jackson, reverted to familiar off the wall territory when awards show bad boy Kanye West dissed VMA “Best Female Video” winner Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech by taking the mike from Swift and championing Beyonce’s Single Ladies video as the rightful winner in the category.  (He later apologized to Swift in a blog message.)

The act caused most of the packed Radio City Music Hall crowd to enthusiastically boo West, who was asked to leave the building by undoubtedly embarrassed MTV officials.

The stunned Swift was given another chance to complete her acceptance speech later in the show by none other than Beyonce herself, who –after winning the video of the year award– ceded the stage to the young country/pop singer.

Last night’s VMAs succeeded in delivering great ratings — and arguably  some unwelcomed agita — to MTV executives.