Viacom Top Executive Predicts MTV European Music Awards Ratings Record

Psy Music Video Screengrab - H 2012

Psy Music Video Screengrab - H 2012

Record ratings are expected as Ludacris drops his new single and Heidi Klum is expected to dance along with Korean star Psy who gives his first-ever awards-show performance.

FRANKFURT, Germany – The 2012 European Music Awards, which will be broadcast live Sunday night from Frankfurt, Germany, illustrate how relevant live linear TV remains in the digital multi-channel, multi-platform world.

The 19th EMAs are on track to set or beat the ratings record set by last year's event in Belfast, Ireland, where 39 million viewers tuned in worldwide and some 158 million votes were cast for EMA artists.

According to Bob Bakish, president and CEO of Viacom International Media Networks, of which MTV is a part, online interest and voting is tracking significantly higher this year ahead of the show in Frankfurt, which will feature live performances by, among others, Taylor Swift, Alicia Keys, No Doubt, Pitbull, The Killers and Muse. The 2012 show will air across MTV's global network on 60 channels reaching nearly 700 million households worldwide.

"The EMAs are, if anything, more relevant now than ever before," Bakish said. "We expect the ratings - both the linear TV ratings and the digital traffic - will be bigger than ever.”

Unlike the more U.S.-focused MTV Music Video Awards, Bakish says the EMAs are “the most global of any award show out there” pointing to nominated acts including Canadian newcomer Carley Rae Jepsen (nominated for 3 EMAs including Best Song for Call Me Maybe) and Korean pop sensation Psy, who will be giving his first-ever awards show performance at the EMAs with a live version of Gangnam Style.

The global nature of the show is one reason hip hop artist Ludacris said he chose the EMAs as the platform to debut the first single from his upcoming album Ludaversal.

“The album won't be coming out until next year but the single and the video, featuring David Guetta and Usher you will be able to check out on the red carpet at the EMAs,” Ludacris said. “I wouldn't choose any other outlet than MTV, especially globally, to drop a video of this magnitude.”
The rapper, who will also be a presenter at the 19th EMAs, said his collaboration with Guetta, a French house music DJ, sprung from last year's European Music Awards, when the two performed live on stage in Belfast.

"You can definitely thank the EMAs for that!” Ludacris said.

While established talent will be front-and-center for much of the EMAs, MTV has carved out a significant portion of the show for up-and-coming artists featured in MTV Push, the network's format for giving  major exposure to emerging artists. MTV Push artists from this year including Rita Ora, fun. and Carley Rae Jepsen will all perform live at the 2012 EMAs.

"You can see that artists featured on Push, many of them, go on to become big, established acts,” said Bakish. “The show tonight will be a showcase of what's happening in music and pop culture right now. From  emerging artists like Carly Rae Jepsen or fun., to Psy, who, is definitely the act of the moment, to more established artists like Alicia Keys or The Killers.”

Despite the broad and impressive line-up of musical talent, the spotlight is definitely shining brightest on Psy, the K-Pop singer whose Gangnam Style, with its OTT video and  horse-riding dance moves, has become an Internet and chart-topping sensation.

"Yes, Psy is in the house!” MTV News host Tim Kash, co-host of the EMA Red Carpet Show, told the assembled press corps ahead of Sunday night's show.

Even actress, supermodel and Project Runway host Heidi Klum, who will host the 2012 EMAs, admitted she won't be able to avoid dancing Gangnam Style with the Korean pop star when he takes the stage in Frankfurt.

"I think I'm pretty good (at the Gagnam Style). I have four kids, we have dance parties at home and it's a big, big success. So I have lots of practice.” Klum said she set up a "special date" with Psy on Saturday ahead of the EMAs to prepare for their joint performance Sunday night.

In addition to Klum, on-air presenters and special guests at this year's EMAs will include Kim Kardashian, David Hasselhoff, the Jonas Brothers and the cast of Geordie Shore, MTV's Brit reality series modeled on Jersey Shore.