How can a cable network engage its tech-savvy audience during a live TV event?


Introduce innovative, real-time experiences to spark user engagement for the Video Music Awards (VMAs).


MTV partnered with Twitter to develop interactive experiences that allowed users to engage with and influence the VMAs.


  • 12.4M viewers—up 9% from prior year 
  • 2.7M mobile site views in one day
  • 16% engagement rate

MTV Networks (@MTV) is a global leader in entertainment content. The annual Video Music Awards (VMAs) is always one of the network’s highest-rated shows.

Their challenge

Since 2007, MTV has pioneered the use of Twitter at the VMAs, and ratings soared when the network began to integrate Twitter even more fully to drive engagement. Leading up to the annual awards, @MTV wanted to take their social TV approach one step further and create groundbreaking interactive experiences.

Their solution

@MTV worked with Twitter’s content and programming team to develop interactive experiences that allowed viewers to engage with and actually influence the live broadcast. A custom Twitter Tracker website and mobile site increased viewer interaction for the VMAs. @MTV then used a Promoted Trend on Twitter with the hashtag #VMA to amplify the conversation. The same hashtag was shown on-air, on and on the Twitter Tracker site to maintain a consistent audience experience.

The Twitter Tracker site integration had three major components: Buzz, Paparazzi and Hotseat.

Buzz encouraged viewers to tweet about VMA celebrities. The Tweets influenced an online and on-air Buzz experience with pictures that grew and shrank based on the volume of Twitter conversations about those celebrities.

MTV Buzz

The Paparazzi feature on the Twitter Tracker site distributed backstage photos to users in real-time and encouraged viewers to retweet those photos. The most retweeted photos were showcased during the live program.

MTV Paparazzi

The Hotseat was a seating chart of the theater that showed where celebrities were tweeting from during the broadcast. By clicking on a seat, viewers could see a celebrity’s real-time Tweets.

MTV Hotseat

“The combination of Twitter and television is powerful. Developing Twitter engagement during a show is now just as important as pre-show promotional activities.”

Thomas FishmanSocial Manager, MTV

Their results

The VMAs with the Twitter Tracker integration and Promoted Trend drew the largest audience for any telecast in MTV’s history to-date. The incredible volume of over 10 million Tweets contributed to the broadcast’s increased viewership and social media success.

3 keys to success

  1. Work with Twitter to create customized experiences.

    Twitter’s content and programming team can help you customize your solution. @MTV hosted a custom Twitter Tracker desktop and mobile site and used Promoted Trends on Twitter with the hashtag #VMA.

  2. Engage followers with integrative techniques.

    Create multi-platform experiences to engage users both online and on-screen. #VMA was shown on-air, on and on the Twitter Tracker site for a consistent audience experience across channels.

  3. Boost engagement throughout your event.

    Fill low-viewership times with compelling content. @MTV actively tweeted to keep viewers engaged throughout the show, including during commercial breaks.