While the 2015 Billboard Music Awards pulled a massive audience on television -- with 11.1 million viewers tuning in to mark the third consecutive year of growth for the televised broadcast on ABC -- and fans were also engaged with the awards show on social media.
According to data provided by Nielsen, 787,000 people wrote 3.3 million tweets about the show on Sunday, and 9.8 million people saw those tweets a total of 174.2 million times. The volume of social activity made the 2015 Billboard Music Awards the most social program on television that night -- even bigger than the series finale of AMC's Mad Men, which ran concurrent to the broadcast.
The top moment of the evening came during Kanye West's show-closing performance of "All Day" and "Black Skinhead," which garnered 18,255 tweets per minute (TPM) at its peak. The second-highest spike in activity was at the broadcast's opening, when the debut of Taylor Swift's music video for "Bad Blood," which added a guest verse by Kendrick Lamar, concluded. This was followed by One Direction's win for top duo/group (16,686 TPM), and then Pitbull and Chris Brown's performance (16,526 TPM).
The moments that elicited the biggest reaction from fans online differed from what garnered the highest ratings. According to Nielsen's ratings data, Brittney Spears and Iggy Azalea's performance of "Pretty Girls" garnered the biggest audience as 13.5 million people were tuned in to see their remote broadcast from Planet Hollywood's Axis Theater. This was followed by Sam Smith's silent acceptance of the Top Male Artist award (13.2 million viewers), followed by Taylor Swift's win of Top Female Artist (13 million viewers).
The most-used hashtag for the evening was the official #BBMAs tag, which was used more than 727,000 times, followed by the hashtag used for Swift’s epic “Bad Blood” music video premiere, #BadBloodMusicVideo, used more than 112,176 times.
Swift, who was the evening’s most-mentioned star (149,000 mentions) followed by 1D's Louis Tomlinson (118,000 mentions), had a huge night due to the "Bad Blood" video rollout. According to data provided by Twitter, there have been more than 7 million tweets about Swift and "Bad Blood" since the video was first announced on May 7, adding to the more than 13 million tweets in the past 90 days about Taylor and the Swifties. In the period leading up to the video debut, more than 100 million people saw tweets about the music video, and as of the Monday following the awards show, the #BadBloodMusicVideo hashtag (which also first debuted on May 7) has garnered more than 770,000 retweets on the platform.
Shazam played a big part in the awards show as well, with onscreen integrations offering fans more content for using the app during the broadcast. According to Shazam, the number of tags during this year’s broadcast was up 39 percent from the previous year. The most-tagged performance was Ed Sheeran’s performance of “Bloodstream,” followed by Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth (who were joined by Lindsey Stirling) for “See You Again” and Meghan Trainor and John Legend’s classy duet performance of “Like I’m Gonna Lose You.” It's notable that Shazam was so popular with the slow, ballad-oriented tracks, which suggested that they were some of the most-engaging moments of the evening.
Fans also reacted on Tumblr. According to Union Metrics, in the past two days, there have been more than 63,500 posts earning 4.7 million notes about Swift and the BBMAs. Nearly 50,000 of those posts and 3.6 million notes were specifically about Swift and “Bad Blood,” while the rest were mostly about One Direction and Nicki Minaj.