It turns out not that many people were excited to tune in to MTV on Sunday night and watch Vine “stars” kill time in between handing awards and microphones to Taylor Swift. Variety reports that the Nielsen live+same day estimates for the MTV telecast drew the smallest audience for the show in the channel’s history. The 2015 Video Music Awards averaged 5.03 million viewers on MTV, beating the previous record low of 5.07 million in 1996. It was down nearly 40 percent from last year’s audience of 8.26 million, when there was no host, which America apparently prefers to Miley Cyrus hosting.
However, this is actually a bit misleading when you get into specifics. The show aired simultaneously on nine different Viacom-owned networks, and when you combine the numbers from VH1, Comedy Central, TV Land, and BET, you get an additional 3.9 million viewers—or almost exactly a million more than watched it on MTV last year. (True, VH1 also simulcast last year’s awards and pulled in 1.31 million viewers, but the point remains that the drop is much less steep than it seems at first glance.) In other words, lots of people still watched it, but just didn’t want to deal with having to sit through commercials for the new season of Awkward.
The awards show was still as big a hit as ever on Twitter, though: It set a U.S. Twitter record (excluding sports events), with 2.2 million people posting around 21.4 million tweets. Of course, this data doesn’t break down the content of those tweets, presumably largely comprised of people asking their friends who the hell Amanda Steele is. (A “15-year-old YouTube star who makes lifestyle videos about makeup and fashion,” FYI.) No word on what percentage of those tweets came solely from disgruntled TV Land fans upset their regularly-scheduled episodes of Reba were preempted.