Sunday night's MTV Video Music Awards scored the show's—and the network's—biggest-ever audience: 12.4 million.
Five guesses as to why:
1. Beyoncé's baby news: When Twitter reports that Mrs. Jay-Z's in-show announcement generated a record-number of tweets-per-second, then it's hard not to conclude the news was a big deal to people who watch the VMAs—or who might be tempted to watch them once they saw all the tweets. (The VMAs, remember, do not air live in all time zones; West Coasters could've seen the headlines, and adjusted their viewing plans accordingly.)
2. The Twitter factor: Forbes isn't buying it, but we are. Just five years ago, the VMAs were sick, as in sickly. The show had lost half its audience from its heyday. Then Twitter, which busted out in 2007, helped put the must-see back in must-see TV, and, aside from blips here and there, awards shows across the board have been ticking upward ever since. If people have something to tweet about (see: No. 1), people have a reason to tune in.
3. The Hunger Games factor: Once upon a time, Twilight saved the MTV Movie Awards, so it's not inconceivable that the debut of new footage from a franchise possessed of Twilight-esque fervor boosted the VMAs.
4. Lady Gaga: Either her Little Monsters got word she was opening her show, and/or the world got word that a woman (who, granted, was playing a man) was opening a show without the help of a pole dance, and got really curious as to what that would look like.
5. Hurricane Irene: It took blame for ruining Paul Rudd's opening weekend, shouldn't it get credit for keeping folks at home in front of their MTV? (Now, as for how folks were watching their MTV without power…? Haven't figured that part out yet.)
Elsewhere, here's a quick look at some of the other TV week's ratings winners:
• The Weather Channel: Obviously.
• Jersey Shore—the one that aired before the VMAs: Obviously.
• Jersey Shore--the one that aired in its regular time slot: Always.