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MTV's Video Music Awards attracted the biggest audience in the network's history, drawing 12.4 million total viewers to Sunday night's event.

Of that total, Nielsen figures also showed that MTV delivered 8.5 million people in its target audience of 12-to-34-year-olds, making it the network's most-watched telecast ever in that age group. 

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Compared to last year, the VMAs were up 8 percent in the target demo and 9 percent overall. The show also ranked as the top-rated non-sports show on cable television all year.

This year's show featured Lady Gaga dressed like a man, a career tribute to Britney Spears and the debut of Beyonce's baby bump.

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Even the VMA Pre-Show ranked as a record in the 12-34 demo and total viewers, garnering 5.2 million and 7.3 million, respectively (up 13 percent and 16 percent compared to last year).

On broadcast television, a National Football League exhibition game (between the New Orleans Saints and Oakland Raiders) led NBC to a Sunday night victory for the second week in a row, averaging 8.40 million viewers, according to prelimnary Nielsen figures. As we've previously noted, because Sunday Night Football is NBC's biggest draw, those viewership figures bode well for the fourth-place broadcast network.