Industry websites The Wrap and Deadline take different spins on the numbers
It cannot be denied that the 2016 “BET Awards” blessed viewers with an amazing Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar performance, an array of emotional Prince tributes and “Grey’s Anatomy” star Jesse Williams giving an incredibly moving speech on black liberation. But what seems to be up for debate is whether the viewership was up or down.
A total of 7.2 million people watched the annual awards show this year — up from 6.5 million from last year. But that didn’t stop industry watchdog The Wrap from reporting that viewership “plummeted” by a whopping 29 percent. Meanwhile, rival Deadline reported that viewership was up 11 percent.
So what really gives?
First, unlike last year, the “BET Awards” was simultaneously shown on 12 Viacom networks including Centric, MTV, VH1, Comedy Central, Logo, Spike and others. Viacom owns BET.
But The Wrap led its story and based its headline only on those viewers who tuned into the show on BET, while Deadline factored in the collective numbers from all of Viacom’s channels — which makes sense, right?
(FYI: This same method of reporting viewership isn’t rare. It was also used for the “Roots” remake, which was simultaneously broadcast on The History Channel, Lifetime and A&E. But we digress.)
Now, it’s important to point out that both websites’ accounts of the “BET Awards” ratings are factually correct, but why The Wrap chose to lead its story with the negative does raise some questions about racial bias in reporting and the era of click bait journalism.
Overall, it was a good night for BET. The show scored big in the important 18-49 demo with 3.8 million viewers, making it the top cable awards show of the TV season for the second year in a row, up 10 percent from last year.