The event falls short of the 2017 ceremony, which had the previous record-low audience.
Monday’s show drew 2.25 million viewers and a 1.1 rating among adults 18-49. Across eight Viacom-owned channels, it drew 4.87 million viewers and a 2.2 in the demo; both sets of numbers fall short of the 2017 VMAs, which set the previous low.
The awards also aired on a ninth Viacom network, TV Land, for which numbers weren’t immediately available. It is highly unlikely, however, that enough people tuned in there to push the VMAs past their 2017 on-air total of 5.36 million viewers and 2.6 rating in adults 18-49.
The 2017 awards also aired opposite a huge Game of Thronesfinale on HBO; the heaviest head-to-head competition on cable Monday was WWE Monday Night Raw on USA (1.1 in 18-49, 3.1 million viewers) and an NFL preseason game on ESPN (0.8, 2.66 million).
The MTV-only airing is down 15 percent in viewers and 21 percent in adults 18-49 versus 2017. The simulcast is off about 9 percent in viewers and 15 percent in the demo.
The VMAs suffered even steeper declines among MTV’s core viewership of teens and young adults. In the 18-34 demo, the show’s 1.2 rating fell by almost half — 47 percent, to be precise — from 2.2 a year ago. It declined by similar percentages in the 12-34 cohort.
Camila Cabello won video of the year honors at the VMAs for “Havana,” and Jennifer Lopez received the Video Vanguard Award. The show also featured a tribute — of sorts — to Aretha Franklin by Madonna.