- The Washington Times - Monday, September 4, 2006

VMAs lose luster

The youngsters may be too busy hearing music on their IPods to care who wins the coveted MTV Awards.

How else to explain the dismal ratings for Thursday’s telecast of the annual MTV Video Music Awards — which saw ratings drop 31 percent among viewers in the cable network’s target demographic, those aged 12 to 34, Reuters news agency reports.

Nearly 3.9 million viewers in that age group tuned in for the 23rd annual event at Radio City Music Hall in New York, still enough to beat all other channels for the night in that demo. The total viewership, 5.8 million, tumbled 27 percent from last year, and represents almost half of the audience the show drew on MTV in 2002.

Yet the news wasn’t all grim for MTV suits. In its online site, the network broke its own record for the most single day content streams through its VMA broadcast with 3.9 million. MTV’s last streaming high was reached the day after last year’s awards show, with 3.3 million.

Unexpected benefit

Public hope that a new suspect in the JonBenet Ramsey murder case was the killer may have dissipated recently, but that didn’t matter to the tabloid shows covering the case.

Syndicated newsmagazine shows enjoyed a ratings bump with their coverage of the murder case arrest during the week ending Aug. 20, according to Nielsen Media ratings data issued last week, Reuters reports. Ratings for nearly all the newsmagazines were up both from the previous week and from the same period a year ago thanks to the Aug. 16 arrest of schoolteacher John Mark Karr, a suspect in the 1996 slaying of the 6-year-old beauty queen. The Boulder (Colorado) County District Attorney’s office has since ruled that DNA evidence shows that Mr. Karr, who had confessed to the murder when he was arrested in Bangkok, could not have been the killer.

Top-rated newsmagazine “Entertainment Tonight” averaged a 4.4 household rating, according to Nielsen Media Research. That figure is up 5 percent from the show’s previous weekly rating and up 7 percent from a year ago. Helping boost the ratings was an interview with Pam Paugh, sister of JonBenet’s late mother Patsy Ramsey.

“Inside Edition,” which featured several exclusive interviews with people who know Mr. Karr, was the biggest week-to-week gainer in the genre, rising 6 percent to a 3.3 and also increasing 10 percent from a year ago. “The Insider” (2.5) devoted an entire episode to the arrest, marking only the second time in its two years on the air that it has focused on one subject (the first time was an episode following the death of Christopher Reeve in 2004). The coverage helped make the show the biggest year-to-year gainer of any first-run syndicated daily show. “Insider” was up 14 percent over last year and up 4 percent from the previous week.

“Access Hollywood” averaged a 2.2, rising 5 percent from the previous week and 5 percent from a year ago.

“Extra” earned no points for steering clear of the debacle. It didn’t cover the arrest and watched as its ratings stayed flat during the news cycle with a 1.9.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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