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VMAs 2021 ratings: Down on viewers, up on buzz

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The ratings of the 2021 VMAs on MTV plummeted 17% in the key age group of audiences between the ages of 18 and 49, according to the Wrap

Although that doesn’t sound like a good sign for the infamously messy ceremony, the social media numbers tell a different story, marking it as a hit. It generated 38 million interactions on social media, beating the Super Bowl for the first time and marking it as the year’s top telecast for social media buzz. 

Sunday’s MTV Video Music Awards, hosted by pop star Doja Cat, included a slew of memorable moments. Madonna, 63, opened up by giving the audience — and the world — an eyeful of her rear end, and “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” legend Cyndi Lauper, 68, gave a well-received fiery speech before presenting the best pop trophy to Justin Bieber, Giveon and Daniel Caesar for “Peaches.”

“The girls still wanna have fun,” she said. “But we also want funds. Equal pay. [We want] control over our body. You know, fundamental rights.” 

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) legend Conor McGregor, 33, almost got into a physical fight with Machine Gun Kelly, 31, as the bleached-hair star walked the red carpet with his girlfriend, Megan Fox, 35. Although the exact cause of the almost-fight is still unknown, security got involved. “[McGregor] was ready to throw fists,” a source told Page Six. “Security was having trouble holding him back.”

Sunday’s show aired across 13 networks: MTV, VH1, the CW, Comedy Central, Nick at Night, Pop, TV Land, MTV2, Logo, Paramount Network, BET, BET Her and CMT. 

According to the Hollywood Reporter, 900,000 live viewers tuned in on Sunday night, which is a 32 percent drop from 1.32 million viewers in 2020. Last year, in turn, saw a 5% drop from 2019.

However, this phenomenon isn’t unique to the VMAs. All viewership of awards shows has been on the decline, and the pandemic hasn’t helped. The Golden Globes also saw a 13-year low, with a viewership of 6.9 million viewers, a dramatic 63% plummet from 18.3 million in 2020. 

The VMAs highlights included Olivia Rodrigo, Lil Nas X and Bieber as the night’s big winners and performances from Shawn Mendes, the Foo Fighters and Alicia Keys, among others.



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