NEW YORK, N.Y. - Without Miley Cyrus' twerking to get tongues wagging, ratings for MTV's annual Video Music Awards took a tumble.
The pop music extravaganza, at which Beyonce was in the spotlight, reached 8.3 million viewers on Sunday. That's down from the 10.1 million who saw last year's show but up from the 6.1 million who watched the awards show live the year before that, the Nielsen ratings company said.
The VMAs live or die depending on whether they create a memorable pop culture moment. Last year, Cyrus hit pay dirt on her suggestive duet with Robin Thicke, which set Twitter volume records at the time. Cyrus didn't perform on Sunday's show and sent a homeless youth onstage to accept her award for video of the year.
Still, the VMAs generated 12.6 million tweets from its young audience. By contrast, Nielsen said Monday's Emmy Awards show generated 1.1 million tweets even though, with an estimated 15.6 million viewers, more than twice as many people were watching.
CBS won last week in prime time, averaging 5.8 million viewers. NBC, with "America's Got Talent" again the week's most popular program, was second with a 5.1 million viewer average. ABC had 4 million, Univision had 3.3 million, Fox had 2.6 million, ION Television had 1.28 million, Telemundo had 1.27 million and the CW had 900,000.
ESPN was the week's most popular cable network, averaging 2.59 million viewers in prime time. Fox News Channel had 1.91 million, USA had 1.89 million, TNT had 1.81 million and the Disney Channel had 1.79 million.
NBC's "Nightly News" topped the evening newscasts with an average of 8 million viewers. ABC's "World News" was second with 7.3 million and the "CBS Evening News" had 6.5 million viewers.
For the week of Aug. 18-24, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: "America's Got Talent" (Tuesday), NBC, 9.48 million; "America's Got Talent" (Wednesday, 9 p.m.), NBC, 9.43 million; "NCIS," CBS, 9.11 million; "60 Minutes," CBS, 8.5 million; "2014 MTV Video Music Awards," MTV, 8.26 million; "The Big Bang Theory," CBS, 7.45 million; "Under the Dome, CBS, 7.3 million; "Big Brother" (Sunday), CBS, 7.24 million; NFL Exhibition Football: Cincinnati vs. Arizona, NBC, 6.98 million; "NCIS: Los Angeles," CBS, 6.97 million.
ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Co. CBS is owned by CBS Corp. CW is a joint venture of Warner Bros. Entertainment and CBS Corp. Fox is owned by 21st Century Fox. NBC and Telemundo are owned by Comcast Corp. ION Television is owned by ION Media Networks.