The 2011 BET Awards ceremony, which aired live from the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California on Sunday, June 26, was watched by 7.7 million viewers, marking an increase from last year's 7.4 million.
In 2009, the annual event drew a record 10.7 million viewers, according to the Hollywood Reporter, which carried the report. The ceremony that year aired soon after the death of Michael Jackson and featured a tearful tribute by Chris Brown to the King of Pop.
Brown was the big winner of the 2011 BET Awards, earning four honors, including best male R&B artist. He won Viewer's Choice, Best Collaboration and Video of the Year for his song "Look At Me Now" with Lil Wayne and Busta Rhymes.
The three artists performed together as part of a medley of Brown's songs. When he won the Viewers' Choice award, there was some confusion as Rihanna's name was called as well. Canadian rapper Drake, who collaborated with the female singer on the track in question - "What's My Name," accepted the award on her behalf but Brown was eventually revealed as the real winner later in the show.
"That BET Awards Viewer's Choice mix-up was due to human error," BET President of Music Programming and Specials Stephen Hill Tweeted. "And I was the human that made that error. I apologize to ALL affected."
The mix-up was especially awkward because of the history between Brown and Rihanna. Brown pleaded guilty in 2009 to felony assault for attacking the singer, who he was dating at the time. He was sentenced to five years of probation and six months of community service. Brown completed a court-mandated domestic violence course in December 2010.
Rihanna won Best Female R&B Artist, Kanye West won Best Male Hip-Hop Artist and Nicki Minaj won Best Female Hip-Hop Artist. Justin Bieber, who collaborated with Chris Brown on a recent song and "doomsday" music video, accepted West's award on his behalf.
The show is produced by BET Networks, touted as "the nation's leading provider of quality entertainment, music, news and public affairs television programming for the African-American audience."