VMAs Notch Big Viewer, Demo Gains

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MTV’s silver anniversary Video Music Awards show scored at least a silver medal with the Nielsens Sunday night.

The 25th anniversary VMAs -- hosted by British comedian Russell Brand and highlighted by three awards for Britney Spears’s 'Piece of Me,' including the video of the year-- averaged 8.43 million viewers from 9 p.m. to 11:20 p.m. on Sept. 7, according to live + same day data from Nielsen Media Research.

Fueled by a strong performance among MTV’s key 12-to-34 target demo, the show from the Paramount Theater in Los Angeles drew 19% more that the 7.08 million garnered by the 2007 Moonman tribute in Las Vegas, itself a 23% advance over the 5.76 million who watched the three-hour telecast from New York’s Radio City Music Hall in 2006. MTV2’s simulcast added another 674,000 viewers on average on Sunday night, according to Nielsen.

Still, those numbers are a far cry from the 10.9 million viewers the VMAs averaged between 2001 and 2004. According to Nielsen data, the 2001 VMAs pulled in 10.8 million and then spiked to 11.9 million in 2002. In 2003 and 2004, the kudofest captured 10.7 million and 10.3 million wathers, respectively, before falling to just over 8 million in 2005.

According to Cable Fast National data, Sunday’s show scored an 8.1 gross rating on the two networks among the 12-to-34 set, a 26% gain from last year’s show and 37% over the 2006 VMAs. On the main service, the event generated a 7.4 rating among the aforementioned demo, up 15% and 46% from the 2007 and 2006 VMAs, respectively.

All told, during the VMA premiere period, MTV and MTV2 reached some 23 million total viewers, including 13 million from the demo.

Online, MTV.com counted 2.3 million unique visitors, up 170% from the previous Sunday, Aug. 31. Of that total, 1.3 million checked out VMA fare comprising show pages, flipbooks, video content and attendant show news. The VMA content produced over 10 million page views, a 110% increase from last year’s show, according to network officials

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