Not only was Sunday's Video Music Awards the most-watched MTV telecast ever -- with a record 12.4 million total viewers and 8.5 million of those 12-to-34 years old, according to Nielsen Media Research -- it was a Twitter ratings buster, too.
"Last night at 10:35pm ET, Beyonce's big MTV #VMA moment gave Twitter a record bump: 8,868 tweets per second," Twitter's global PR account said Monday. That was when when Beyonce performed her song "Love on Top" and concluded by rubbing her newly pregnant belly, which MTV complemented with a reaction shot of her ebullient husband and father-to-be Jay -Z.
MTV also claimed Sunday's most-watched telecast across all TV, with NBC topping broadcast ratings at 9.42 million total viewers for its coverage of the NFL pre-season match between the New Orleans Saints and Oakland Raiders. CBS finished second with an episode of "Big Brother 13," which was watched by 8.17 million total viewers, according to Nielsen.
Beyond Beyonce, many theories abound as to how MTV scored its biggest ratings to date, from the scheduling of its "Jersey Shore" lead-in to the impact of Hurricane Irene, which kept many viewers on the East Coast from leaving their homes over the weekend. A high volume of VMA-related tweets kept the show top of mind throughout its two-and-a-half-hour runtime, too -- from opener Lady Gaga (who appeared in male drag as alter ego Jo Calderone) to awards for major pop stars such as Kanye West, Katy Perry, Britney Spears and Adele. MTV Digital properties were viewed by more than 2 million unique visitors during the telecast, MTV said, with traffic from social networks increasing by 76% over a year ago.
The marketers who scored big with the VMAs' record ratings include Verizon, which sponsored the show's Twitter Tracker; Wrigley's 5 Gum, sponsor of the event's Viewer's Choice Award; and Lionsgate, which premiered a teaser trailer for its highly anticipated March release "The Hunger Games." Other sponsors included Procter & Gamble's Cover Girl, Unilever's Dove Go Fresh deodorant, Kia Motors America, PacSun, Sharpie, State Farm and Taco Bell.