Miley Cyrus Did Not “Torpedo” Viewership of the VMAs

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A lot of people have a lot of things to say about the lot-of-Miley everyone experienced this weekend, with the coupling of the VMAs, her completely ignorant remarks on Nicki Minaj in the New York Times, Nicki Minaj’s response to said remarks, and the free album Miley dropped alongside all of this.The Verge, for example, has gone so far as to suggest that she “torpedoed her career.” And that suggestion doesn’t seem altogether off-base when you see headlines about the VMAs like “VMA Ratings Drop with Miley Cyrus,” and “5 Million Viewers Watched the VMAs on MTV.”

Both are true, but they exaggerate, or emphasize only one part of the stats. It turns out that, all in all, that the VMAs had 9.8 million viewers — across 10 Viacom platforms (MTV, MTV2, VH1, VH1 Classic, CMT, Logo, BET, Centric, Comedy Central, TV Land). It is true that on MTV, only 5 million people tuned in, and that that number is far less than the year before, but that’s in part because they also could have tuned in to watch on any other channel across these 10. (Last year, on MTV alone, the show had received 10.3 million viewers, but it wasn’t being simulcast). Meanwhile, it’s being noted that its streaming views were up 155% from last year — with 19.1 million streams. Also, this year set a Twitter record for the VMAs — coming in just behind the Super Bowl as the second most tweeted televised event, with its 21.4 million related Tweets.

Nicki Minaj calling Miley Cyrus out on her blatant display of tone policing has undeniably done some momentary damage to Cyrus’ progressive image — but even though it may be seductive to thereby suggest that Cyrus damaged the VMAs, the dip in overall viewership seems to be more minor than exaggerating/withholding pieces would have you believe.