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posted: 9/15/2012 7:02 AM

Where did all of MTV's viewers go?

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  • From left, Peter Facinelli, Elizabeth Reaser, Wyck Godfrey, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner and Jackson Rathbone speak onstage at the MTV Video Music Awards on Thursday, Sept. 6, 2012, in Los Angeles.

      From left, Peter Facinelli, Elizabeth Reaser, Wyck Godfrey, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner and Jackson Rathbone speak onstage at the MTV Video Music Awards on Thursday, Sept. 6, 2012, in Los Angeles.
    Associated Press

 
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- What a difference a year makes for MTV's "Video Music Awards," and not in a good way.

MTV's annual big event last week was seen by 6.1 million viewers, less than half of the 12.4 million who watched in 2011, when the show was believed to be MTV's most-watched program ever, according to the Nielsen Co., which measures media consumption.

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The show wasn't lacking for star power, with performances by Taylor Swift, Frank Ocean, Green Day, Pink and Alicia Keys with Nicki Minaj. But it aired on a Thursday this year, instead of a Sunday, when more viewers tend to be available. MTV also moved up the telecast by one hour to avoid competing with President Barack Obama's speech at the Democratic National Convention, and the 8 p.m. hour is early for MTV's young customers.

Still, MTV said the research company Trendrr said the awards were the top social media event of the year, with more than triple the Internet conversation as last year.

Otherwise, the return of football dominated prime-time television last week. Games between Pittsburgh and Denver (Sunday) and Dallas vs. the N.Y. Giants (Wednesday) topped the ratings with more than 20 million viewers.

The most-watched non-football program of the week was the "60 Minutes" interview with Matt Bissonnette, the former Navy SEAL involved in the killing of Osama bin Laden last year. The former SEAL wrote a book under an assumed name (CBS News did not identify him) and an interview took up the entire CBS News program on Sunday. It was seen by 12.3 million viewers.

The Monday debut of Katie Couric's daytime talk show started strong in the ratings, equaling the highest overnight ratings for a new talk show in a decade ("Dr. Phil," 2002), and beating the debuts of shows featuring Steve Harvey, Jeff Probst and Ricki Lake.

NBC easily won the week's prime-time ratings crown behind football, averaging 10.3 million viewers (6.4 rating, 10 share). Fox had 5.8 million (3.5, 6), CBS had 5.1 million (3.4, 5), ABC had 3.8 million (2.6, 4), ION Television had 1.1 million (850,000) and the CW had 780,000 (0.5, 1).

Among the Spanish-language networks, Univision led with 3.5 million (1.9 rating, 3 share). Telemundo had 1.1 million (0.6, 1), TeleFutura had 670,000 (0.4, 1), Estrella had 170,000 and Azteca had 90,000.

NBC's "Nightly News" topped the evening newscasts with an average of 7.7 million viewers (5.3, 11). ABC's "World News" was second with 7.4 million (5, 10) and the "CBS Evening News" had 5.6 million viewers (3.9, 8).

A ratings point represents 1,147,000 households, or 1 percent of the nation's estimated 114.7 million TV homes. The share is the percentage of in-use televisions tuned to a given show.

For the week of Sept. 3-9, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: Sunday Night Football: Pittsburgh at Denver, NBC, 27.57 million; NFL Football: Dallas at N.Y. Giants, NBC, 23.89 million; "Sunday Night NFL Pre-Kick," NBC, 20.14 million; "Wednesday Night NFL Pre-Kick," NBC, 18.67 million; "Football Night in America," NBC, 12.99 million; "60 Minutes," CBS, 12.32 million; "NFL Opening Kick-Off Show," NBC, 10.68 million; "America's Got Talent" (Tuesday), NBC, 8.93 million; "NCIS," CBS, 7.94 million; "America's Got Talent" (Thursday), NBC, 7.88 million.

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