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MTV's 2009 VMAs Pull Nine Million Viewers, Best Ratings Since '04

September 15, 2009 1:51 PM ET

A shade under nine million viewers tuned into this year's MTV Video Music Awards, meaning that the VMAs' largest television audience since 2004 tuned in to see Kanye West steal the spotlight from Taylor Swift. Of course, also helping MTV to their best ratings in years was news that Janet Jackson would star in a tribute to her brother Michael at New York's Radio City Music Hall, while the trailer for the upcoming documentary for Jackson's This Is It was also premiered. In addition to the 8.97 million viewers, the VMAs' also became the Number One cable program this year for the much-desired 12-34 demographic, Variety reports.

Photos: The 2009 MTV Video Music Awards's Memorable Moments

Viewers were up six percent compared to the VMAs, something that seems even more impressive when you factor in what the 2009 broadcast was up against: The opening Sunday of the NFL season, tennis' U.S. Open and the season finale of True Blood, which probably sapped some of the audience eagerly awaiting the VMA's debut of the New Moon trailer. By comparison, the 2006 Video Music Awards, the last time the show was staged at Radio City Music Hall, claimed only 5.76 million viewers.

Weren't one of the nine million viewers on Sunday night? Rolling Stone has all your essential coverage over at our VMA hub, featuring photos, a live blog, Madonna's tribute to Michael Jackson and the complete rundown on Kanyegate 2009.

Related Stories:
Madonna Surprises VMAs With Michael Jackson Tribute
Kanye West Storms the Stage During Taylor Swift's Speech
Video: VMAs Interviews You Didn't See on TV

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Song Stories

“Vans”

The Pack | 2006

Berkeley, California rappers the Pack made their footwear choice clear in 2006 with the song "Vans." The track caught the attention of Too $hort, who signed them to his imprint. MTV refused to play the video for the song, though, claiming it was essentially a commercial for the product. Rapper Lil' B disagreed. "I didn’t know nobody [at] Vans," he said. "I was just a rapper who wore Vans." Even without MTV's support, Lil' B recognized the impact of the track. "God blessed me with such a revolutionary song… People around my age know who really started a lot of the dressing people are into now."

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